Eleven people, including four women, died and 29 more were injured when an overcrowded mini-bus plunged into a deep gorge in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district on September 14, officials said in Jammu.
The bus was on its way to Poonch from Gali Maidan when it met with the accident near Brari Nallah in the border belt of Sawjian around 8.30 a.m., they said.
The officials said a joint rescue operation by the Army, police, and local villagers was immediately launched.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Droupadi Murmu, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar and several leaders from the Valley expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident.
The officials said nine passengers were found dead on the spot, while two more succumbed to injuries at a hospital.
The condition of nine of the 29 injured is critical, and six of them were airlifted to the Government Medical College and Hospital in Jammu for specialised treatment, they said.
The bus rolled down more than 250 feet into the gorge and hit the hard ground strewn with boulders, the officials said, adding that the vehicle, also carrying students headed for schools, was completely damaged.
Ten of the deceased have been identified as Bashir Ahmad Lone (40), his daughter Nazima Akhter (20), Shaida Akhter (32), Razia Akhter (18), Zarina Begum (40), Mahroof Ahmad (14), Mohd Hussain (65), Imran Ahmad (6), Abdul Kareen (70) and Abdul Qayoom (40).
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha expressed grief over the loss of lives and announced ₹5 lakh ex-gratia for the kin of the deceased.
“Saddened by loss of lives due to a road accident in Sawjian, Poonch. Condolences to bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. ₹5 lakh would be given to the next of kin of the deceased. Directed police and civil authorities to provide best possible treatment to the injured,” he tweeted.
Mr. Sinha also visited the district hospital in Jammu to enquire about the health of those injured and announced ₹one lakh aid for seriously injured victims.
“Visited District Hospital, Poonch to enquire about health of civilians who were injured in tragic road accident today. Met the relatives & doctors treating injured. 6 seriously injured have been airlifted to Jammu for treatment. ₹1 Lakh would be given to those seriously injured,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, a group of people staged a protest against the district administration over its failure to check frequent road accidents and put in place a well-equipped trauma centre.
“We have to shift critically injured accident victims to Jammu, as a result of which many of them lost their lives,” a protester claimed.
Prime Minister Modi also announced financial aid of ₹2 lakh from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to the next of kin of each deceased and ₹50,000 for those injured.
“The loss of lives due to an accident in Poonch is saddening. My thoughts are with all those who lost their loved ones. Wishing the injured a speedy recovery. ₹2 lakh from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of each deceased and ₹50,000 would be given to the injured,” he said in a tweet on the Twitter handle of the PMO.
President Murmu said, “The loss of lives in a tragic road accident in Sawjian, Poonch is deeply distressing. My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families. I wish speedy recovery of the injured.”
Mr. Dhankhar tweeted, “Pained to learn about the loss of lives in a bus accident in Poonch, Jammu and Kashmir. My deepest condolences to the bereaved family members and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured.”
National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said, “Very sorry to hear about the tragic loss of lives in a bus accident in Poonch. May the souls of the departed rest in peace & may the injured make a swift recovery.”
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti expressed shock over the accident. “Deepest condolences to the grieving families & prayers for the injured,” she tweeted.