Nineteen people were killed and 55 injured when a bus carrying a marriage party plunged into a 300 feet gorge in Ramnagar area of Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday night.

Inspector General of Police, Jammu, Dilbagh Singh, told The Hindu that the bus rolled down the ravine in Dudu Basantgarh area, 160 km from Jammu. The bus, which had a seating capacity of only 42, had 74 people on board. Those killed included two brothers of the bridegroom.

The IGP said 11 people died on the spot and others died of their injuries either en route or under treatment at two hospitals in Udhampur and Jammu.

While some were discharged on Sunday, nearly 45 are undergoing treatment at the District Hospital at Udhampur. Mr. Singh said seven of the critically wounded were shifted to the Army’s Northern Command Hospital at Udhampur. Of them, four were battling for life. Three critically injured were rushed to Jammu and admitted to the Government Medical College (GMC) Hospital. One of them died in evening.

Minister for Health Sham Lal Sharma visited the injured at the three hospitals on Sunday. Deputy Commissioner P.K. Pole and Senior Superintendent of Police, Udhampur, Ashkoor Wani, said almost all the injured were responding to treatment. Mr. Wani said the rescue operation took several hours overnight, despite a helping hand by the CRPF, as the accident site was nearly 60 km off Chinani on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.

Those killed have been identified as brothers Purshotam Singh and Joginder Singh, Karnail Singh, Mohd. Shafiq, Kuldeep Singh, and Balbir Singh. All of them are residents of Basantgarh.

Governor N.N. Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah have expressed shock over the loss of lives. Mr. Abdullah directed the authorities to provide the best possible treatment to the injured, even if anybody had to be flown to PGI Chandigarh or New Delhi for treatment.

According to authoritative sources, many such tragedies had taken place in the Udhampur-Doda belt.

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