Twenty people are feared killed and several injured, some of them seriously after a minibus which was allegedly overloaded plunged into a deep gorge in Ramban district on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway on Saturday morning, police said.
Ramban’s senior superintendent of police Anita Sharma, however, told HT over phone that 20 were feared dead and 14 others were being shifted to the district hospital. The bus was travelling from Banihal to Ramban.
Deputy Commissioner of Ramban, Showkat Aijaz Bhat also rushed to the spot.
“The minibus was on its way from Banihal to Ramban and when it reached Kela Morh, it veered off road and plunged into a 300 foot deep gorge.”
The accident happened around 10.30 am.
Police, army, paramilitary personnel were pressed into the rescue operations
Bhat said the number of casualties is not exactly known.
“As of now I can say that there are 19 injured, out of whom 11 are being airlifted to Jammu for specialized treatment,” he added.
“One sortie has taken off from Chanderkote helipad and we are waiting for another to airlift remaining injured passengers to Jammu,” he said.
Bhat also informed that the government has announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin and Rs 50,000 to the injured.
The government has sanctioned Rs 5 lakhs for next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for injured passengers.
A local said that the driver Rehmatullah was an experienced driver and passengers always preferred him for his safe driving skills.
“But the minibus was overloaded,” he said.
There has been a spate of similar accidents recently in the Jammu region, usually involving overloaded minibuses.