Nine people, including five students, were killed after a private tourist bus hit a state-run KSRTC bus from behind at Vadakkenchery here, Kerala Road Transport Minister Antony Raju said on Thursday.
The minister said the accident occurred around 11.30 PM on Wednesday when the private bus, which was traveling at a high speed while attempting to overtake a car, hit the rear end of a Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus.
"Both the buses went off the road as a result. Nine persons, including five students and a teacher, were killed in the accident," he told the media.
The minister also said that the preliminary view was that the accident occurred due to the high speed of the private bus and the negligence of its driver.
He said the KSRTC bus was going from Kottarakkara in Kerala to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and had 81 passengers, of whom three died in the accident.
The private bus was carrying 42 students and 5 teachers of Baselios Vidyanikethan Senior Secondary School in Ernakulam, who were on a pleasure trip.
State Local Self Government Minister M B Rajesh, who visited the hospital in Palakkad where the injured were admitted, told reporters that four of them were in serious condition, but the rest were fine.
Meanwhile, state Revenue Minister K Rajan told the media that everyone was in shock regarding what happened.
He said there will be an investigation to ascertain how and why the accident happened and strict measures would be needed to be put in place for preventing such incidents in the future.
Rajan said a cabinet meeting will be held to consider providing compensation to the families who lost loved ones in the accident and that counselling may have to be provided to the students who lost close friends and a teacher in the tragic incident.
One of the students told a TV channel that the private bus was going at a very high speed and then rammed into the rear right side of the KSRTC bus and then toppled over.
"There was blood everywhere. We do not know what has happened to some of our friends and teachers who were in bad shape," he said, breaking into tears.
Another student said that she was watching a film when the accident occurred and someone landed on top of her as the bus toppled over.
"Someone pulled me and another girl out from the bus. But the girl sitting close to me could not be pulled out until much later," she said.
Around 40 persons were injured in the accident, police said.
(Inputs from PTI)