updated 8/6/2009 12:17:48 PM ET 2009-08-06T16:17:48

A bus veered off a narrow mountain road and plunged into a river in northern Pakistan on Thursday, leaving about 34 people, including 26 soldiers, missing and presumed dead, authorities said.

The bus ran off the road near the scenic tourist destination of Gilgit, police official Mohammed Nasir said, adding that rescue teams had been sent to the area.

By evening, no bodies had been recovered from the fast-flowing Indus River, and Manzur Hussain, another police officer in the area, said it was unlikely that anyone had survived.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the casualties included 26 soldiers who were returning to their units after going on leave.

Cleaner jumps clear
Hussain said one man — the bus cleaner — managed to jump off the vehicle before it fell into the water.

It was unclear how many people were on the bus, but the cleaner told police there were about 35 passengers.

Such accidents are common in Pakistan, where roads are often poorly maintained and drivers regularly disregard traffic rules.

More on: Pakistan

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