The pilgrims were returning from the Ghazi Miyan ki Dargah in Bahraich after attending an Urs. The bus ploughed into the truck at Tilwarai at around midnight on Friday. The passengers were on their way to Ajmer in Rajasthan.
While 16 charred bodies have been sent for autopsy, the disaster site suggests that the magnitude of the tragedy could be much higher, as the bus was packed to capacity.
“We have been told that there were 78 people in the bus. While many injured have been admitted to different hospitals, we fear the toll may go up,” a home department official said.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 compensation for those seriously injured, said Labour Minister Waqar Ahmad.
He said the government will bear the cost of treating the injured people. Two of the injured were referred to Lucknow as their condition deteriorated.
The police suspected that the impact of the collision led to a spark and some LPG cylinders kept in the bus exploded.