16 Amarnath pilgrims killed in J&K road accident


16 Amarnath pilgrims killed in J&K road accident


Security personnel carry out rescue work after a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims falls into a gorge, off Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Ramban district, Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday.

NEW DELHI JULY 16  : Sixteen Amarnath pilgrims were killed and 19 others, including eight minors, were injured as a bus they were travelling in rolled down a gorge on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway on Sunday afternoon.

“Sixteen are feared dead so far,” a senior official told The Hindu.

A police official said a State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) bus, part of the Amarnath pilgrims convoy, were carrying as many as many as 43 passengers when it met with an accident near Banihal, about 100-km away from the Pahalgam base camp.

The bus, bearing registration number JK02V-0594, rolled down several feet and plunged into a fast flowing stream.

An official said a chopper was put into service to rescue the injured pilgrims. “Nineteen injured, including eight minors, are being shifted,” said a Banihal administration official.

Preliminary reports suggest that the bus was negotiating a sharp bend at Nachilana when it lost control and fell down. “The possible cause for the imbalance and getting out of control was apparently a tyre burst,” said an official.

The bus was apparently on the way to the cave shrine in the Valley as the yatra entered its 17th day. The stream flows around 100 feet down the road.

In Srinagar, the hospital administration described the condition of some of the injured pilgrims as “serious”.

“Five injured were admitted to Srinagar’s SKIMS hospital,” said the official.

Several other injured were airlifted to Jammu. “Two injured were locally admitted in a Banihal hospital,” said the official.

Scores of locals converged on the spot and were able to rescue the pilgrims initially. Later, the Army, CRPF and police joined the rescue efforts.

A local resident said ropes were used to reach the spot and rescue the injured.

Governor N.N. Vohra, who also heads the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), held a meeting in Srinagar.

Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh said, “I am deeply shocked and saddened to know the about the bus accident carrying Amarnath yatris. My condolences to the families who lost their family members. I have directed the administration to airlift the injured immediately to the Jammu hospital and rescue operations are on.”EOM

M K Vidyaranya

M K Vidyaranya

Senior Journalist, Executive Editor at Media World , worked as the Chief of Bureau of the Press Trust of India (PTI) national news agency’s Karnataka Unit also worked as a Senior Journalist in Vijay Times (now defunct) , Karnataka’s second largest circulated English daily.(Times of India group). My father late M R Krishnamurthy who died at the age of 81 (20 years ago) was a Freedom Fighter and Journalist who had worked for Indian Express, Kannada Prabha, Viswakarnataka, Tainadu, Janavani and other news papers. I was also editing few evening English newspapers, weeklies and fortnightlies. besides running the FAXNEWS News agency.

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