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Tragedy hits Doda; 38 killed, 20 injured as bus falls into gorge

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Doda: At least 38 people were killed and 20 injured when a bus carrying passengers skidded off the road and rolled down into a 300-foot gorge in Doda district on Wednesday, officials said.

The bus (JK02CN-6555) was reportedly carrying 58 passengers, they said, adding that it skidded off the road near Trungal-Assar on the Batote-Kishtwar national highway and fell 300 feet downhill.

A rescue operation was launched immediately and some bodies were retrieved, the officials said.

The death toll is likely to go up.

According to a police spokesperson, the accident occurred at around 11:50 am at Trungal-Assar and the bus was on its way from Kishtwar to Jammu.

In a statement, Public Relations Officer (Defence) Lieutenant Colonel Suneel Bartwal said 38 people were killed in the incident, with 32 passengers declared dead initially, and 20 sustained injuries.

“In a commendable display of promptness and coordination, the Indian Army, in collaboration with civil administration, conducted a swift rescue operation in response to a grievous accident on National Highway 244 at Assar, near Wani Mod, approximately 4 km from COB ASSAR towards Batote,” he said.

Bartwal said the bodies are being sent to the Assar Primary Health Centre and Doda Civil Hospital.

There were a total of 58 individuals on board the ill-fated bus at the time of the incident, he added.

Doda Deputy Commissioner Harvinder Singh had earlier said 37 people were killed and 19 injured, including four who were shifted to the Government Medical College (GMC) hospital in Jammu.

“It is an unfortunate incident. It was said that the bus was not being run in the right manner, which resulted in the accident,” Singh said.

Some of the deceased have been identified and the bodies will be handed over to their families.

“We checked all the details of the vehicle. Maybe it was not being driven in the right manner. The vehicle jumped over the crash barriers and rolled down,” Singh said.

An inquiry will be held into the incident, he added.

Due to the fall from a considerable height, the bus was badly damaged, sources said.

Police and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel, besides locals, are involved in the rescue operation, they said, adding that some of the injured passengers have been shifted to hospitals.

The injured were first taken to a hospital in Doda and subsequently, four of them were airlifted to the GMC hospital in Jammu.

Top police and civil administration officers are supervising the rescue operation on the spot. The officials said the bus was carrying extra passengers and while negotiating a “U” turn, it overturned and rolled down into the gorge.

The bodies were taken out after cutting some parts of the bus, they added.

Some of the bodies were badly mutilated, the officials said.

Chief Secretary, Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, immediately after the unfortunate road accident, took stock of the measures taken by the district and divisional administration regarding the rescue and relief activities, an official press release informed.

It said Dr Mehta expressed his shock and anguish over the tragic accident. He called for looking into all the causes that could have resulted in the incident. He made out that the administration would make every effort to plug the loopholes identified by investigation. He stressed on intensifying measures that would ensure there is no loss of life in such a manner in future.

The Chief Secretary also enquired from the concerned divisional and deputy commissioner about the status of rescue measures taken so far and removal of injured to the hospitals. He also asked the health department to extend the best possible medical care to the injured. He instructed them to make the treatment readily available to them so that they have speedy recovery.

The Chief Secretary also stated that the administration is together with the affected families in this hour of pain and loss. He made out that all measures of rehabilitation would be taken for the bereaved families and those injured in this accident. (With additional inputs from PTI)

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