As many as 44 people, including 10 women and three children, are reported to have died following a horrific bus accident on Wednesday (19 April) in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

According to reports, the tourist bus carrying 56 passengers skidded off the mountainous road and plunged into Tons river in Nerva area, which is located around 126kms away from Shimla, a popular mountainous tourist destination in India and the capital of Himachal Pradesh.

Emergency teams and the local police are at the accident spot carrying out rescue operations, the Tribune India reports.

Heavy casualty is reported after the bus reportedly fell straight into the Tons river, which is the largest tributary of the scared river Yamuna.

"40 bodies have been recovered by the rescue team from the site of the accident and there are reports of two more bodies floating in the river", Indian Express newspaper cited D W Negi, a Shimla police official, as saying.

The bus was on a journey to a small city Tiyuni in the neighbouring northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.

The cause of the accident is not known yet. Officials fear the death toll could rise.

A 13-year-old child and the conductor of the bus apparently managed to jump off the vehicle seconds before it fell into the river, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who is currently in the Indian capital Delhi, has ordered his government to provide immediate treatment to the injured. He has also announced to provide monetary relief to the next of kin of those who survived.

Chief Minister of the neighbouring state Uttarakhand, Trivendra Singh Rawat, has also announced financial compensations of Rs 100,000 (£1,206) to the family of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those passengers who are seriously injured.