Police say no fewer than 44 people were killed when a passenger bus fell into a river in India’s northern mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday.

Local police officer, Narender Singh said an analysis of the number of passengers on board shows 76% death was recorded.

"Forty-four people including at least 10 women and children died in the bus crash that occurred around noon,” Singh said from the site of the accident.

Police and local agencies reached the scene and joined rescue operations.

Officials said the death toll is likely to rise as some bodies are still being extricated from the river.

Local media reported that there were a total of 56 passengers in the bus headed to the neighbouring state of Uttarakhand.

India has the highest number of traffic fatalities in the world.

According to data from the Indian government, an average of 135,000 people die on the country’s roads each year.