Eighteen people were killed and 17 injured when a private bus carrying around 35 passengers veered off the road and fell into a 500-metre gorge on Friday morning in Bharari area of Sangrah subdivision of Sirmaur district, about 200 km from here.

The bus, mainly carrying farmers with their produce, was going from Purandhar village of Sirmaur to Solan town.

Four people died on the spot and others on way to the hospital, police officials said.

Most of the injured were rushed to Nauradhar and Rajgarh health centres and the zonal hospital in Solan, saidblock health officials.

Rescue teams have been rushed from Solan and Sangrah, they said.

Bus accidents, mainly in the remote hilly terrains of Himachal Pradesh, have become very common.

The bad condition of government buses, overcrowding in private buses and the rundown condition of roads are the main causes of these accidents.

As the frequency is less, people board overcrowded buses despite warnings from the drivers.

Four people died a few days ago in the same area in Boghdhar when a car went off the road.

Sirmaur is one of the most backward districts in the State and a Congress stronghold for a long time.

Most of the youth from its villages work as potters or do menial jobs in the tourism industry here and other hill stations.