Kolhapur (Maharashtra) Jan 27 At least 13 persons were killed and four others injured after a minibus fell into a river early on Saturday, an official from Kolhapur Control said.

The accident occurred just after midnight when a private Tempo Traveller bus with around 16 passengers of three Pune-based families was proceeding from Ratnagiri to Kolhapur.

The passengers were returning after a Thanksgiving pilgrimage to the famed Ganpatipule beach temple in Ratnagiri.

Around 12.50 a.m. when it was speeding along the Shivaji Bridge on the Panchganga River, the driver apparently attempted to overtake a vehicle in front of him.

Just then, another speeding vehicle suddenly came in from the opposite lane, causing him to lose control and the minibus rammed into the stone barriers before plunging into the river, around 100-feet below.

Police and disaster teams were engaged in a massive operation to search and rescue the victims since morning with heavy duty cranes and dumpers deployed to hoist the bus from the stony bottom.

Three injured persons were extricated from the bus wreck and rushed to hospitals. A few others were stuck inside the vehicles. Efforts were underway to retrieve the bodies.