At least 35 people were killed and over a dozen others injured as an overcrowded bus fell into a deep gorge in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district today, police officials said.
Kishtwar district Senior Superintendent of Police Shakti Pathak said 35 people died and 17 others were injured in the accident that took place around 7:30am (Indian time).
The minibus, which was on its way from Keshwan to Kishtwar, skidded off the Keshwan-Thakrai road and rolled down into the gorge, said Kishtwar Deputy Commissioner Angrez Singh Rana.
The 28-seater bus was carrying 52 passengers when the accident occurred, he said.
The police, security agencies and the locals launched a rescue operation and shifted the injured to hospital. Helicopters were flown in and three passengers were airlifted from the site to the Jammu Government Medical College Hospital, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
State Governor Satya Pal Malik announced ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the next of the kin of each deceased.
Malik said the reasons for such incidents would be investigated 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 withdraw unfit vehicles and untrained drivers, according to a Raj Bhawan spokesperson.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has 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.
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah also expressed sorrow over the deaths.