Doda- Entire Pir Panjal region was plunged into grief on Wednesday as a passenger bus fell into a 300 feet deep gorge on a treacherous mountain road in Doda. At least 39 people, including six women, were reported killed and 18 others injured as per last reports received late in the night.
“A passenger bus (JK02CN-6555) that left Kishtwar at around 0800 hrs skidded off the road and rolled down into a 300-foot-deep gorge near Trungal-Assar of Doda on the Batote-Kishtwar highway when driver of bus failed to negotiate a sharp cure,” police said.
Police added that a rescue team rushed to the spot and launched an operation and men and machinery were pressed into service to shift the injured for medical treatment.
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 on the right side, which resulted in the accident,” Singh told PTI.
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.
Locals expressed concern over the poor condition of the road which, they said, not only led to this accident but several such tragedies in the past.
“The bus was going from Kishtwar to Jammu. Thirty-six people were killed on the spot,” Mohammad Ashraf, the sarpanch of the area where the accident took place, told reporters.
Ashraf, who along with other local residents, launched the rescue operation, said at least 10 accidents have taken place in Doda of late, but the administration is yet to act.
“We gave Rs 6 lakh to repair the road. They failed to repair it. They have misappropriated the money. A similar accident took place here only a few months ago and many lives were lost,” he added.
This is probably the biggest accident in Doda in the last few years.
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.
On May 24 this year, seven people were killed and three injured after a cruiser vehicle skidded off the road and fell into a gorge at the Dangduru dam site in the Dachan area of Kishwar.
Eight people were killed and three seriously injured when their car skidded off the road and plunged into a 300-foot gorge in Kishtwar on August 30.
On June 27, five people were killed and 12 injured when their vehicle fell into a gorge on the Bhadarwah-Pathankot road in Doda.
Six people were killed in road accidents in Doda district on October 8 and October 20.
Prez Murmu, PM Modi; LG Express Shock
President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and political leaders on Wednesday expressed shock and sadness over a bus accident in Doda that has killed at least 39 people.
“I am deeply saddened by the news of the unfortunate death of several passengers in a bus accident in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir. I express my condolences to the bereaved family members and pray for the speedy recovery of those injured,” Murmu said in a post in Hindi on X, formerly Twitter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the bus accident was distressing. “My condolences to the families who have lost their near and dear ones. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest,” Modi said on X.
He announced that an ex gratia amount of Rs 2 lakh each would be given to the next of the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge expressed pain and anguish over the loss of lives in the bus accident and urged authorities to speed up the relief and rescue work.
“Pained and anguished to hear about the terrible bus tragedy in Doda, Jammu and Kashmir which has resulted in loss of many precious lives. We urge the authorities to expedite the rescue and relief work,” he said in a post on X.
“In this hour of grief, our deepest condolences to the families of the victims. May they get the strength to overcome their losses,” he said.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and three former chief ministers of the erstwhile state expressed condolences over the loss of lives.
“Extremely pained by the loss of lives in a tragic bus accident in Assar, Doda. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved families & wishing for a speedy recovery of those injured in the accident. Directed Div Com & Dist Admin to provide all necessary assistance to affected persons,” Sinha posted on X.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti also expressed grief over the loss of lives. “Deeply shocked & saddened about the tragic road accident at Assar in Doda. Deepest condolences to the families of those feared dead & hope the administration expedites rescue operations,” she posted on X.
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah also expressed sadness over the loss of lives.
“JKNC President Dr Farooq Abdullah and VP @OmarAbdullah are extremely shocked and saddened to hear about the road accident at Assar near Trungal in Doda district in which several are feared dead. They have implored the administration to provide all possible help to the injured. In this moment of immense grief, their thoughts and prayers lie with the families of the deceased,” the National Conference posted ion X.
LG Announces Rs 5L-Exgratia For Each Family
Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha on Wednesday approved an ex-gratia of Rs. 5 lakh each for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives in the tragic bus accident in Assar area of Doda.
He has also approved an amount of Rs.1 lakh for those injured and assured all possible assistance to the affected families.
“An ex-gratia of Rs.5 Lakh each would be given to the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the unfortunate bus accident in Assar, Doda. Rs. 1 Lakh would be given to those injured. J&K UT Administration will provide every possible assistance to the affected families,” Sinha posted on Twitter, previously known as X.
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