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Death dances violently on Kishtwar road

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36 killed; PM, HM, others express grief; Guv announces ex gratia

Injured being rushed to GMC, Jammu. Photo/KI

Jammu, Jul 01: Thirty-six people died and over a dozen were injured when an overcrowded bus skidded off a hilly road and fell into a deep gorge in Kishtwar district on Monday morning, officials said.

The minibus (JK17-6787), which was on its way from Keshwan to Kishtwar, skidded off the Keshwan-Thakrai road and rolled down 250 feet and fell into a ‘nallah’ (stream) at Sirgwari (Thakrie) near Kuryal Pul, about 23 kms from Kishtwar town around 7.30 am, officials said.

Kishtwar Deputy Commissioner A S Rana said that the 28-seater bus was carrying 52 passengers when the accident occurred, adding that a probe would be ordered.

Thirty-five people died and 17 others were injured, district Senior Superintendent of Police Shakti Pathak said.

The police, security agencies and the locals launched a rescue operation and shifted the injured to the hospital. Choppers were flown in and three passengers were airlifted from the site to the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu, officials said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi 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.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also expressed sorrow over the deaths. "Extremely saddened to learn about the loss of lives due to a road accident in Kishtwar, Jammu & Kashmir. My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones. I pray of the speedy recovery of those injured," he tweeted.

Governor Satya Pal Malik expressed grief over the incident and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of the kin of the deceased. He directed the administration to provide the best medical treatment to the injured and wished them speedy recovery.

Malik said the reasons for such incidents would be probed 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 take away unfit vehicles and untrained drivers off the road, according to a Raj Bhawan spokesperson. He said Malik observed that most of the accidents take place due to "careless and untrained" drivers, who he said drive without any regard for rules and regulations.

in New Delhi, Congress said it has urged its workers to provide assistance in giving medical help to those injured in the bus accident and asserted that preventive measures need to be taken to avoid such "regularly occurring accidents".

"Saddened by the terrible bus tragedy in Kishtwar. My thoughts are with families of the victims. Request INC workers to assist in medical help to the injured," Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted.

"We need to seriously think about preventive measures to avoid such regularly occurring accidents," he said.

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