At least 35 people died and over a dozen were injured when an overcrowded mini bus skidded off a hilly road and fell into a deep gorge in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district on Monday morning, officials said.
The minibus, which was on its way from Keshwan to Kishtwar, skidded off the Keshwan-Thakrai road and rolled down into the deep gorge around 7.30 am, officials said.
Kishtwar Deputy Commissioner AS Rana told PTI that the 28-seater bus was carrying 52 passengers when the accident occurred, adding that a probe would be ordered.
Thirty-five people died and 17 others were injured, district Senior Superintendent of Police Shakti Pathak told PTI.
The police, security agencies and the locals launched a rescue operation and shifted the injured to the hospital. Choppers were flown in and three passengers were airlifted from the site to the Jammu Government Medical College Hospital here, officials said.
Governor Satya Pal Malik expressed grief over the incident and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of the kin of the deceased. He directed the administration to provide the best medical treatment to the injured and wished them speedy recovery.
Malik said the reasons for such incidents would be probed thoroughly and strong decisions would be taken in the next state administrative council (SAC) meeting to ensure strict action.
A few months ago, the governor had directed the Transport Department officers to take away unfit vehicles and untrained drivers off the road, according to a Raj Bhawan spokesperson.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives. “The accident in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar is heart-wrenching. We mourn all those who lost their lives and express condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover at the earliest,” Modi tweeted.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also expressed sorrow over the deaths. “Extremely saddened to learn about the loss of lives due to a road accident in Kishtwar, Jammu & Kashmir. My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones. I pray of the speedy recovery of those injured,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Congress urged its workers to provide assistance in giving medical help to those injured in the bus accident and asserted that preventive measures need to be taken to avoid such “regularly occurring accidents”.
“Saddened by the terrible bus tragedy in Kishtwar. My thoughts are with families of the victims. Request INC workers to assist in medical help to the injured,” Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted.
“We need to seriously think about preventive measures to avoid such regularly occurring accidents,” he said.