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Death toll in Indian-controlled Kashmir bus accident rises to 20
From:Xinhua  |  2018-10-06 20:29

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by Peerzada Arshad Hamid

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from Saturday's major mini-bus accident in Indian-controlled Kashmir has risen to 20, police said.

The accident took place near Kala Morh in Ramban district, about 135 km south of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

According to officials, the mini-bus with 36 passengers onboard skidded off the mountainous road and fell into a gorge in the morning.

"The death toll in today's tragic accident has now risen to 20 and the dead include children and women," Superintendent of police in Ramban, Anita Sharma, told Xinhua. "The injured are undergoing treatment at different hospitals."

According to Sharma, the ill-fated vehicle was going from Banihal town to Ramban district headquarter.

Officials said the victims were local passengers heading to the main town.

Following the accident locals informed police who along with disaster response force personnel and medical teams rushed to the spot to carry out rescue work of removing injured to the hospital and retrieving bodies from the gorge.

"As the news about accident spread, locals as well as police officials and disaster response force personnel came to the spot to carry out rescue work of removing injured and retrieving bodies," Mushtaq Tehseen, a local said. "It was really a tough job to carry injured and dead from the deep gorge."

Eyewitnesses said the vehicle was mangled after fall from a huge height.

According to police, the 36 passengers were inside the mini-bus at the time of the accident, more than its carrying capacity.

Deputy commissioner in Ramban, Showkat Aijaz Bhat, said the administration sought help from airforce to airlift the injured to a hospital in Jammu.

"The injured have been admitted to a district hospital here, while as eight critical ones were airlifted to Jammu government medical college hospital for specialised treatment," Bhat said. "I appreciate the role of locals, who worked side by side with police and disaster response force personnel during the rescue work."

Police officials have registered a case and ordered an investigation to ascertain the reason behind the deadly accident.

Officials suspect "negligent driving" the cause of the accident.

Meanwhile, the region's Governor Satya Pal Malik has expressed grief over the accident and announced financial assistance of 6,749 U.S. dollars for each family that lost member in the accident.

"Governor Satya Pal Malik has announced an ex-gratia of INR 500,000 (6,749 U.S. dollars) each to the family of deceased and INR 50,000 (674 dollars) to each of the injured," a statement issued by local government said.

In a separate accident on Friday night in the region at least 16 Indian army troopers were injured in a road accident in Shopian district, south of Srinagar.

The injured troopers, according to police, were immediately removed to hospital.

Deadly road accidents are common in India often caused due to overloading, bad condition of roads and reckless driving.

Officials said on an average over 400 deaths take place every day in India due to road accidents.

Last month 17 people were killed and 16 others injured in a similar accident in the region.