Jammu: Seventeen people were killed and 34 others injured on Tuesday when a passenger bus rolled down into a 400-feet deep gorge on the Jammu-Srinagar highway in Ramban district.
The bus, which was on its way to Srinagar from Jammu, skidded off the road and rolled down into the gorge in Digdol area around 0230 hours due to alleged negligence of the driver, police officials said.
Eight persons died on spot while 44 others sustained injuries. Soon after the accident, police launched rescue and search operation and recovered the bodies from the gorge, the officials said.
The injured were shifted to District Hospital Ramban, where nine of them succumbed to their injuries. Authorities pressed into service chopper and airlifted 17 critically injured passengers to GMC Hospital Jammu for specialised treatment, they said.
The bus was carrying some tourists, a group of youth from Poonch going to the Kashmir Valley for taking part in an army recruitment drive and some labourers including those from Gujarat and Punjab.
Some of the injured passengers told police that the driver was asked to break the journey and rest for some time but be decided to go ahead.
The accident took place due to the “negligence of the driver”, a police officer said. He said the driver, identified as Tariq Ahmed, of Jammu, has managed to escape from the spot.
“Most of the bodies recovered were badly mutilated,” he said.
Ruksar Ahmed, 17, a resident of Poonch who was among the injured, said, “The ill-fated bus developed technical snags. It had some problem with the gear box as well.”
“Almost all passengers made several pleas to the driver to stop the bus and rectify the snags. After covering some distance, the front tyre of the bus burst, as a result of which the driver lost control over the bus and the vehicle rolled down into the gorge,” Ahmed, who was going to Srinagar for taking part in an army recruitment drive at Rangraeth, told Kashmir Reader at GMC Jammu.
Inspector General Police (Traffic) Muneer Khan said, “We are ascertaining the cause of the accident. We have directed the officials concerned to investigate with Transport Department weather the bus was fit for plying on the highway.”
Meanwhile, 12 of the 17 deceased persons have been identified as:
Radha Devi, wife of Rajinder Kumar, of Jalandhar, Punjab; Sonia, daughter of Suml Kumar, of Taran Taran, Punjab; Krishan Lai, son of Magan, of Taran Taran, Punjab; Shahzad, son of Mohammad Sarai, of Hazan Bagh, Jarkhand; Oilsukh, son of Manga Lai, of Taran Taran, Punjab; Shardha Devi, wife of Ashok Kumar, of Amritsar, Punjab; Vijay Kumar, son of Ashok Kumar, of Yamnagar Dabri, Rajasthan; Roma Begum, wife of Suzan Khan, Airport Satwan, Jammu; Rameez Khan, son of Mohammad Khaleel, of Sakhi Madian, Mendher, Poonch; Mohammad Ayoub, son of Ghulam Hassan Malik, of Chatergam, Anantnag; Mohammad Murtaza, son of Mohammad Qasim Gujjar, of Ajole, Hawaii, Poonch; and Kulwant Singh, son of Wakeel Singh, of Vijapur, Jammu.