The condition of two is very critical, he said.

A strong police force, consisting of personnel from half a dozen police stations, was dispatched to the scene of the accident.

The police released the passengers and found that many of them were already dead.

An official spokesman in Lucknow said the prime minister had expressed grief over the loss of life in the Kanpur traffic accident and had instructed senior officials to rush to the scene immediately.

He announced a voluntary amount of Rs 2 lakh each to the relatives of the deceased and asked the district administration to investigate the reasons for the accident and submit a report, the spokesman said.

The Prime Minister has also given instructions to expand emergency aid and ensure appropriate treatment for the injured.