At least seven children between seven and 10 years and four adults were drowned on Thursday morning when a school van they were travelling in fell into a river in spate in Karnataka's west coast town of Mangalore, police said.
"Of the seven children four are girls and three boys. Among the adult victims two are men and two women," Inspector General of police in charge of the western range A.M. Prasad told IANS over phone from Mangalore.
"Around 25 children and seven adults were in the van when it plunged into the overflowing river Gurpura (also known as Phalguni), about 10 km from Mangalore," he said.
The children were studying in an English medium school near Ulaibettu, about 15 km from Managalore.
Fifteen people, including 10 children, have been rescued. "We fear the rest may not survive as the accident took place between 8.30 and 9 this morning," Prasad said.
It is feared that the driver of the bus is also dead although his body has not been found.
"It will take lot of effort to search for the others as the river joins the sea just four kilometres away," Prasad said.
"The river flows next to the narrow road. The river was overflowing and the mud on both sides of the road had become soft. Trying to avoid an oncoming vehicle the driver took the van to the edge of the road and it tilted and fell into the river," he said.
Fishermen and youths in the area helped rescue several children. The van was almost completely submerged in the river.
Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, expressing shock over the tragedy, announced a compensation of Rs.100,000 to the families of the victims.
Most rivers in coastal and north Karnataka have been in spate for the last five days following incessant rains. However there has not been any heavy damage to property or life.