22 killed, 57 injured as bus falls into gorge in Jammu

Bus carrying pilgrims fell into a gorge near Chowki Choura area of Akhnoor, in Jammu, Thursday, May 30, 2024.
Bus carrying pilgrims fell into a gorge near Chowki Choura area of Akhnoor, in Jammu, Thursday, May 30, 2024.

Jammu | At least 22 people were killed and 57 injured after a bus carrying pilgrims skidded off the road and rolled down into a gorge in Jammu district on Thursday, officials said.

The accident took place at the Tungi-Morh in the Chowki Chora belt of the district, the officials said, adding that the bus rolled around 150 feet down into the gorge.

A magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident, the Jammu district magistrate informed on X. He also said 22 people have lost their lives and 57 sustained injuries in the tragedy.

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor (LG) Manoj Sinha has expressed anguish at the loss of lives and announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 5 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased.

A police spokesperson said at about 12:35 pm, the bus bearing registration number UP81CT-4058 fell into the gorge.

The bus was carrying devotees from Haryana's Kurukshetra and was headed towards Shiv Khori in the Pouni area of Jammu and Kashmir's Reasi district. It had started its journey from Uttar Pradesh.

The bodies have been shifted to the Akhnoor sub-district hospital, the police spokesperson said, adding that the injured have been taken to the Government Medical College (GMC) hospital in Jammu.

One of the deceased women has been identified as Dharampati (42), the wife of Radhey Shyam from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, the officials said, adding that most of the victims are from Uttar Pradesh.

The Army, police and locals used ropes and made human chains to carry the bodies and the injured people uphill.

The Army used cranes to pull the bus out of the gorge and the operation is still on, the officials said.

The injured, including six in a critical condition, were initially taken to the Akhnoor hospital for treatment. Subsequently, they were shifted to the GMC hospital in Jammu in ambulances, the officials said.

"More than 36 passengers have been brought to the GMC hospital. Six of them are in a critical condition. Timely treatment is being given to the patients," principal of the hospital Dr Ashutosh Gupta said.

The injured passengers said the accident took place when the driver was negotiating a blind curve and a speeding car was coming from the opposite direction.

"A car was coming from the opposite direction. The driver tried to negotiate a blind curve but failed, resulting in the vehicle rolling down the gorge," Amar Chand, one of the injured people undergoing treatment at the hospital, said.

Those who sustained injuries in the incident said they had come for a pilgrimage to Shiv Khori.

Senior Superintendent of Police, Traffic, Faisal Qureshi, the transport commissioner, along with other officials, visited the spot and supervised the operation.

The SSP said it seems there was no overloading of passengers in the bus.

Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar, SSP-Jammu and the deputy commissioner of Jammu visited the GMC hospital to inquire about the injured.

The LG has expressed anguish at the loss of lives in the accident.

In a condolence message, Sinha said, "The bus accident in Akhnoor is heart-rending. I condole the loss of lives and pray to the almighty to give the bereaved families the strength to bear the irreparable loss. Praying for a speedy recovery of the injured. The administration is providing all possible assistance to the bereaved families and is also extending medical facilities to those who have been injured.

"An ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to be given to the next of kin of each deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured in the tragic bus accident."

This is the biggest accident in the region since a similar incident was reported from Doda on November 15, 2023, in which 39 people were killed and 19 injured when a bus carrying passengers skidded off the road and rolled down into a 300-foot gorge in the Trungal-Assar area of the district.

On March 29, 10 people were killed after a sports utility vehicle (SUV) skidded off the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and fell into a gorge in the Battery Cheshma area of Ramban district.

On July 1, 2019, 35 people were killed and 17 injured when an overloaded mini-bus veered off the road and fell into a gorge in Kishtwar's Sangwari area.

On September 14, 2018, 17 passengers were killed and 16 injured when a mini-bus skidded off the road and plunged into a gorge in the Dandaran area of Kishtwar.

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