Driver, also killed, was fined by traffic police for overloading the previous day
Kishtwar: In the third major accident in Kishtwar district in the past one month, at least 17 passengers were killed and 16 were injured when a mini bus skidded off the road and plunged into a deep gorge on Friday.
The accident occurred at Dandaran, near Thakrai, when the driver of the mini bus, which was on its way to Kishtwar from Keshwan area, lost control and the vehicle plunged into a more than 300 feet gorge near the Chenab riverbed on Friday morning.
“A total of 17 persons died and 16 others were injured in the unfortunate incident,” District Development Commissioner (Kishtwar) Angrez Singh Rana told PTI.
He said the dead included three women and the driver, Ashraf Hussain.
Official said that Hussain was fined by the traffic police for overloading on Thursday.
Mr Rana said that most of the victims died on the spot. One of the 11 critically injured people, airlifted to Jammu for specialised treatment, was declared brought dead by doctors at the Government Medical College Hospital, Jammu.
The district development commissioner, who led the operation along with Senior Superintendent of Police Rajinder Gupta, said, “The next of the kin of the deceased will be given an ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh each, while Rs 50,000 will be given to each of the injured persons.”
He lauded the army, police and locals for their swift action in initiating the rescue operation.
Officials said the mini bus was carrying more than 30 passengers. They said five of the injured were undergoing treatment at a local hospital and their condition was stated to be “stable”.
Jammu-based army spokesman Lt Col Devender Anand said the Indian Air Force had pressed into service a MI-V5 chopper and airlifted eight critically injured victims from Kishtwar to Jammu.
Three other injured were evacuated by a Pawan Hans chopper, Rana said.
Governor Satya Pal Malik Friday expressed grief over the loss of lives in the road accident and announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to those injured in the accident.
An official spokesman said that the Governor has directed for providing free medical treatment to the injured in government hospitals.
In his message, the Governor prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and for strength to the bereaved families.
Advisor to the Governor, BB Vyas, visited Government Medical College Hospital Jammu to enquire about the health of the injured and to assess the treatment being provided to them.
He was accompanied by Divisional Commissioner Jammu Sanjeev Verma, IGP Jammu SD Singh Jamwal, DC Jammu Ramesh Kumar, Principal Medical College Jammu, and other senior officers of the administration.
Vyas conveyed the directions of the Governor to provide necessary medical assistance free of cost to all the injured. He also directed the divisional and district authorities to depute volunteers to be attached with each of the injured patients to facilitate proper treatment to them.
The authorities were directed to extend all requisite support to the families of the injured and also persons accompanying them.
Advisor to the Governor, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, also expressed profound grief and sorrow over the loss of lives in the road accident.
Speaking at the Jamia Masjid on Friday, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq expressed grief over the deaths and injuries in the road accident at Kishtwar.
Expressing solidarity with the families of the bereaved, Mirwaiz prayed for peace to the departed souls and speedy recovery to the injured.
PTI & Information Dept