22 killed as minibus plunges into gorge in Ramban on Jammu and Kashmir highway
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22 killed as minibus plunges into gorge in Ramban on Jammu and Kashmir highway

The accident happened around 10:30 am when the vehicle veered off the road and plunged into the gorge. Police, army, paramilitary personnel assisted by locals launched a rescue mission to evacuate the injured.

india Updated: Oct 06, 2018 23:41 IST
The injured being airlifted from Chanderkote in Ramba. The police, army and paramilitary personnel were pressed into the rescue operations.(HT Photo)

At least 22 people died and 14 others were injured when an overcrowded minibus plunged into a 300-foot gorge in Ramban district on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway on Saturday, a senior police officer said.

The vehicle, packed with office-goers and students, was on its way to Ramban town from Banihal when it careened off the road at Kela Morh around 10.30 am and fell down the gorge, Ramban senior superintendent of police (SSP) Anita Sharma said.

Among the 20 initially confirmed dead were some students of a college and the Government Higher Secondary School in Ramban, a teacher, a revenue department official and the bus driver, the SSP said.

Twelve critically injured passengers were airlifted to the Command Hospital at Udhampur, two of whom later succumbed to their injuries. Of the remaining injured, one was referred to the Bone and Joints Hospital in Srinagar and three to the district hospital in Ramban.

There were conflicting versions on whether the driver, Rehmatullah, lost control of the bus or the vehicle developed a technical snag.

“The driver, Rehmatullah, was said to be a professional driver, known for his safe driving skills. Apparently, the vehicle developed some technical snag. Its steering had developed some problem, causing the mishap,” SSP Sharma said.

One of the rescue officials said local volunteers had begun relief operations soon after the accident and were shortly joined by quick reaction teams of the police, paramilitary and the Army. After Ramban deputy commissioner Showkat Aijaz Bhat and SSP Sharma reached the site, they requisitioned choppers to airlift the critically injured. A total of six sorties were made by Army helicopters, a private airliner and a state helicopter, the official said.

Deputy inspector general of police of Doda-Kishtwar-Ramban range, Rafiq-ul-Hassan, praised the rescuers for reaching the site “in the shortest possible time” and saving several lives.

Udhampur SSP Mohammed Rayees Bhat said of the 12 people airlifted to the Command Hospital in critical condition, two men died.

“Mohammed Iqbal, aged around 26 or 27 years, of Khari village in Ramban district, and Mohammed Rafiq succumbed to their injuries at the Command Hospital,” he said.

Rafiq’s two daughters had earlier died in the same accident this morning, Bhat added.

The teacher who died has been identified as Mudassar Mir while the revenue department official engaged to be married is Nayeem Ahmed.

Governor Satya Pal Malik and leaders of political parties expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident. Malik announced an ex gratia of ~5 lakh each to the next of kin of the dead and ~50,000 each to the injured.

With agency inputs

First Published: Oct 06, 2018 13:05 IST