(Gangtok) At least seven people died on Tuesday after an avalanche slammed into a road in the Indian Himalayan mountain range near the Chinese border, authorities said.

The avalanche occurred around 11:10 a.m. (1:40 a.m. Eastern Time) Tuesday on a busy road that connects Gangtok to Nathu La, a tourist region in the state of Sikkim, near Tibet.

Lt. Col. Mahendra Rawat, an army spokesman, confirmed the death of at least seven people among the 23 tourists who were rescued until 4 p.m. (6:30 a.m. Eastern Time) and transferred to nearby Indian Army medical facilities.

“Unfortunately, seven people succumbed to their injuries in hospital,” Lt. Col. Rawat said.

“It is feared that 20 to 30 tourists in five or six vehicles en route to Nathu La have been buried in snow,” he added.

State disaster management teams, the military and police were continuing to search for those still missing, according to the army statement.

There was no indication that foreign nationals were among the victims of the avalanche.

Sikkim police and government officials could not be immediately reached by AFP.