13 killed, 14 injured as bus skids into nullah in Poonch

Wreckage of bus, which met with accident in Mandi area of Poonch, lying in nullah on Saturday. —Excelsior/Ramesh Bali
Wreckage of bus, which met with accident in Mandi area of Poonch, lying in nullah on Saturday. —Excelsior/Ramesh Bali

Govt orders inquiry, announces ex-gratia

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Dec 8: Thirteen passengers including driver were killed and 14 others injured, six of them seriously, when a passenger bus rolled down into 200 feet deep nullah in mountainous Loran area of Mandi Sub Division in district Poonch this morning.
The tragedy took place at around 9 am, when the ill-fated vehicle No. JK02W/0445 was on way to Poonch from Loran. The bus left Loran Bus Stand at around 8.10 am and when it reached Plera village, just 5 kms short of Mandi town at around 9 am, it rolled down into a deep nallah.

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Eyewitnesses said that telecommunication cable- lying work was going on for the last many weeks on Mandi-Loran road. The contractor had dug the road on nullah side instead of hill and the road is narrow near Plera village. A load carrier was coming from the other side and the bus driver tried to give space for passage of that vehicle at this narrow patch. The front wheel of the bus fell into the semi-filled trench on nallah side and the vehicle got trapped there in tilting position. The bus driver tried to pull back the bus in swift action. Sensing trouble, the passengers raised hue and cry and within fraction of seconds, the bus rolled down into the deep nullah.
The bus was hit against the big boulders/ rocks and was ripped apart into several pieces and ultimately turned into wreckage. The engine portion of the vehicle with front wheels finally landed into the nullah. The bodies of those killed on the spot and critically injured were lying scattered all around down the mountain and nearby wreckage of the vehicle.
Immediately after the tragedy struck the Plera village, the police parties from Mandi and Loran along with medical teams and ambulances rushed to the site. The people from Palera village had already trekked down into the Nallah for the rescue operation.
SSP Poonch Rajiv Pandey along with Additional SP also arrived there shortly after the accident. Seven dead bodies were brought on the road from the nallah, while two more died while being lifted from Nallah to the road by the locals and police. Many relatives of the victims had also arrived there after coming to know about the mishap.
All the injured were shifted to Mandi hospital and then after providing first aid were referred to District Hospital, Poonch. While three more succumbed to injuries in Mandi Hospital, the bus driver Parvinder Singh breathed his last in Poonch hospital.
Deputy Commissioner, Poonch Rahul Yadav also paid visit to Mandi and then to District Hospital Poonch and supervised the rescue operation and inquired about the Medical treatment being provided to the victims.
Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma said that on the requisition of the Deputy Commissioner Poonch, Mr Yadav, State helicopter and a Pawan Hans chopper were provided to the district administration to shift seriously injured passengers to Govt Medical College Hospital, Jammu. He said inquiry is being initiated to ascertain the cause of accident. He said the Government has announced Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia /relief for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured passengers.
Meanwhile, Governor Satya Pal Malik has expressed grief and anguish over the loss of precious lives in the tragic road accident in Mandi area of Poonch. In his message, the Governor has prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and expressed sympathies with the bereaved families. He has wished speedy recovery to those injured in the accident.
An official spokesman identified the 13 passengers who were killed in the accident as – Ajaz Ahmed -32, son of Mohd Ramzan, resident of Sib village; Afia Parveen-2 yrs, daughter of Mohd Rashid; Parveen Akhtar-35, wife of Mohd Rashid both from Loyal Bella; Bashir Ahmed-38, son of Fateh Parray from Loran; Jahangir Ahmed- 35, son of Ahada Bhat from Bracher; Wali Mohd -72, son of Qadar from Bracher; Ghulam Hussain-52, son of Noor Mohd, resident of Chikhan; Sharifa Bi-40, wife of Bashir Ahmed from Loran; Nazia Akhtar-17, daughter of Mohd Rashid from Loran; Gulshan Akhtar-22, wife of Jameel Ahmed from Loran; Mohd Yousuf-50, son of Abdul Rashid, Bashir Ahmed 50, son of Ahmeda, both from Loran and bus driver Parvinder Singh-30, Jagdish Singh, resident of Poonch city.
The seriously injured persons airlifted to GMC Jammu are-Rubian Kouser-12, daughter of Alaf Din from Loyal Bella, Mukhtyar Hussain-30, son of Jamal Din from Chikri, Taj Mohd-60, son of Raj Mohd from Loyal Bella, Mohd Yasir-10, son of Mohd Azam from Loyal Bella, Sabza Ali, daughter of Mohd Rashid and Isam Jan, daughter of Mohd Azam from Loyal Bella. The other injured were undergoing treatment in Poonch hospital while three more were later referred to GMC, Jammu. The injured are- Mohd Ayaz-13 from Loyal Bella, Mohd Hafiz -17 from Bracher, Parveen Akhtar -20 from Bracher, Muksoom Hussain-35 from Loyal Bella, Abdul Rashid -45 from Loran, Naseem Akhtar-30 from loran, Mohd Zahid-27 from Loran, Mohd Ramzan -60 from Loran and Mohd Rashidi -54 from Bracher in Loran. The police has registered a case in this connection.
Deputy Commissioner Poonch, Rahul Yadav, when contacted, said that an inquiry has been ordered by the Government to know about the exact cause of accident. He said Deputy Transport Commissioner, Chief Engineer R&B Jammu and another officer from district administration would hold the inquiry and submit report. He said it would be premature to comment on the cause of accident.
Fitness of the vehicle, carelessness on the part of driver or mechanical failure could be the possible reasons. The committee would also study the other cause if any, especially with regard to digging by the contractor’s men for laying telecommunication cables on Mandi-Loran road at hill side and left uncovered.
He said State Administration was requested to provide choppers and the seriously injured were airlifted to Jammu. The DC said immediate relief was also provided to the victims and he himself was monitoring the rescue operation and the treatment being provided at hospital.