Nepal tractor crash kills 18 pilgrims

At least 18 people including two children were killed in southeastern Nepal on Thursday when a tractor pulling a trailer packed with pilgrims fell into a roadside canal, police said.

Around 40 Hindu worshippers were heading to a religious festival in the southern Terai plains bordering India when their driver lost control just before dawn.

"Sixteen women and two men, including a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, died when the tractor carrying pilgrims overturned," police deputy inspector general Surendra Bahadur Shah said.

It was not known if the driver was among the dead

The worshippers were on their way to Baraha Chhetra temple, one of the country's holiest sites, on the banks of the Koshi river.

Road accidents are relatively common in Nepal, due to poor surfaces, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

In October, 41 people were killed when an overladen bus plunged off a mountain road into a swollen river in eastern Nepal.

Official figures showed 1,734 road fatalities last year, up from 879 in 2001-2.


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