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39 killed as bus falls into gorge in J&K’s Doda district

November 15, 2023 04:09 pm | Updated November 16, 2023 12:40 am IST - Jammu

Police and administration launch major rescue operation; Modi expresses grief and announces ex gratia

Rescue operation is under way after a bus carrying passengers fell into a gorge in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir on November 15, 2023. | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

Thirty nine passengers were killed and 17 others injured as a bus rolled down into a deep gorge in the Chenab Valley’s Doda district on Wednesday.

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The condition of one of the injured is still critical, the officials added. 

The accident took place around 11.50 a.m. when the bus, travelling from Kishtwar to Jammu, fell off the road at Trungal Assar on the highway. A major rescue operation was launched by the police and administration.

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The remains of a bus, which fell into a gorge in Doda district of Jammu & Kashmir on November 15, 2023. At least 37 were killed when the bus skidded off a mountainous road and plunged down a rocky slope, police said. | Photo Credit: PTI

“It is a very sad and tragic incident. Fifty-six people were travelling in the bus. There have been 39 casualties till now and 17 are injured. Four seriously injured were airlifted to Jammu. Most of the bodies have been identified,” said Harvinder Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Doda.

Mr. Singh said an inquiry had been constituted to look into the cause of the accident. “The bus even ran over the recently erected crash barriers. We have checked all the things about the vehicle, its insurance, and service life. The driver is dead. There might be a chance that the vehicle was not being driven properly. An inquiry will look into it,” the Deputy Commissioner said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed grief and announced ex gratia for the victims. “The bus accident in Doda, Jammu and Kashmir, is distressing. My condolences to the families who have lost their near and dear ones. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest. An ex-gratia of ₹two lakh from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of each deceased. ₹50,000 would be given to the injured,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a post on X.

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Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, who also expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives, approved an ex gratia of ₹5 lakh each for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives in the accident. He granted ₹1 lakh for those injured.

Government accused of laxity

Parties in Jammu and Kashmir expressed shock over the frequent accidents and deaths on the highways in the Chenab Valley and accused the government of laxity.

Expressing shock over the accident, CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said the recurring accidents in the region demand immediate attention. “Earlier, a House Committee was constituted that had submitted its recommendations to minimise the accidents in the area. Unfortunately, its recommendations were not implemented,” Mr. Tarigami said.

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Senior Congress leader Ghulam Ahmad Mir slammed the government for failing to contain such incidents. “Despite the public outcry and loss of precious lives in frequent road accidents, the government has failed to do anything with regard to the safety of the public. There is need to fix responsibility for this unfortunate incident and those that happened in past,” Mr. Mir said.

The Congress leader demanded “effective measures to ensure public safety, rather than making tall claims on so-called development in Kashmir”.

Democratic Progressive Azad Party chief Ghulam Nabi Azad sought a probe to identify the reasons behind the frequent road accidents in the Chenab Valley. “There have been serious complaints that traffic rules are not followed by drivers in the Doda district,” Mr. Azad said.

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