At least 19 people were killed and several injured in a bus crash in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Thursday morning.

The accident occurred when the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus collided with a container truck on a highway in Coimbatore district at around 3:00 a.m. local time (5:00 p.m. EST, Wednesday), local daily Mathrubhumi reported. All passengers were in deep sleep at the time of the crash.

The bus was heading toward Ernakulam from Bengaluru, with 48 people on board, while the container truck was heading toward Bengaluru. The bus driver was among those who died, local daily Times of India reported, citing police.

Police said the driver of the truck might have fallen asleep for a few seconds and lost control of the vehicle, which then hit the divider and entered the wrong side of the road, ramming into the oncoming bus. He is reportedly absconding. Eleven of the deceased were identified by police. 

The injured were admitted to a local government hospital and Coimbatore district hospital. Kerala State Transport Minister AK Saseendran said KSRTC will conduct an inquiry into the incident. 

In December, a passenger bus and trailer truck collided in Guatemala, claiming at least 20 lives and injuring dozens. The bus was reportedly hit in the rear side and the section was entirely savaged. Authorities were able to identify only 18 among the deceased whereas the rest were hard to recognize owing to the impact of the crash. The truck was said to have been speeding.

bus crash In this image, police stand near the wreckage of a school bus on Interstate 80 following an accident with a dump truck in Mount Olive Township, New Jersey, May 17, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar