New Delhi -

At least 23 Muslim pilgrims, including eight children, were killed when their van collided with a bus in India's western state of Gujarat, police said on Thursday.

The accident occurred in Sami in the central district of Patan late on Wednesday when the van carrying the pilgrims was returning from a shrine, area police chief GS Vaghela said by telephone.

“Twenty-three pilgrims died on the scene while 17 injured have been admitted to hospitals,” Vaghela said, adding that the death toll might rise.

Police said the van's driver lost control of the vehicle after one of its tyres burst, causing the van to collide with a bus coming from the opposite direction.

India has one of the highest rates of traffic fatalities in the world. Government data showed about 120 000 people are killed in road crashes each year. Most are caused by reckless driving, bad roads or the poor condition of vehicles. - Sapa-dpa