35 die as bus falls into gorge in Kashmir

Delhi Correspondent

At least 35 people were killed and over a dozen injured when an overcrowded bus fell into a deep gorge in Jammu and Kashmir's Kishtwar district on Monday, officials said. The mini bus, which was on its way from Keshwan to Kishtwar, skidded off the Keshwan-Thakrai road and rolled down into the deep gorge, officials said. Kishtwar Deputy Commissioner Angrez Singh Rana said the 28-seater bus was carrying 52 passengers when the accident occurred.

Thirty five people died and 17 others were injured, district Senior Superintendent of Police Shakti Pathak said. The police, security agencies and the locals launched a rescue operation and shifted the injured to the hospital. Helicopters were flown in and three passengers were airlifted from the site to the Jammu Government Medical College Hospital here, officials said.

State Governor Satya Pal Malik announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of the kin of the deceased. Malik said the reasons for such incidents would be probed thoroughly and strong decisions would be taken in the next state administrative council (SAC) meeting to ensure strict action. A few months ago, the Governor had directed the Transport Department officers to withdraw unfit vehicles and untrained drivers, according to a Raj Bhawan spokesperson.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives. "The accident in Jammu and Kashmir's Kishtwar is heart-wrenching. We mourn all those who lost their lives and express condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover at the earliest," Modi tweeted. Indian Home Minister Amit Shah also expressed sorrow over the deaths.