22 killed, 69 Shiv Khori pilgrims injured as bus falls into deep gorge in Akhnoor

Police and locals launch rescue operation after bus carrying pilgrims rolled down into a gorge near Akhnoor on Jammu-Poonch highway on Thursday.
Police and locals launch rescue operation after bus carrying pilgrims rolled down into a gorge near Akhnoor on Jammu-Poonch highway on Thursday.

PM, LG announce ex-gratia/relief for victims’ families
*57-seater bus was carrying 90 passengers, DM orders probe

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, May 30: Twenty two people were killed and 69 others injured, five of them critically, when an over- loaded bus, carrying pilgrims hailing from UP and Rajasthan to Shiv Khori in Reasi district, rolled down into a deep gorge in Akhnoor area of this district today.
A senior police officer told the Excelsior that nine people were killed on the spot, eight dead bodies were later found under the bus and retrieved by lifting it with the help of Army cranes, whereas, rest five others succumbed to the injuries while being shifted to Sub District Hospital, Akhnoor.
The officer further said the ill-fated bus, bearing registration number UP8CT/4058 came from Hathras ( Aligarh) in Uttar Pradesh and it was on way to Shiv Khori shrine in Ransoo area of Reasi district. After performing Darshan at Shiv Khori, the pilgrims had to go to Katra Mata Vaishnodevi tomorrow. In this bus, about 90 passengers including children were travelling.
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The eyewitnesses said that the driver could not negotiate a curve at Tungi Morh, near Tanda Gandarwan on Jammu-Poonch highway in Akhnoor Sub Division at around 11.30 am and the vehicle rolled down into nearly 150 ft deep gorge. The spot where the bus fell down, the area was already engulfed by forest fire and the nearby trees and green bushes were emitting smoke though the fire had almost been contained.

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Immediately after the accident, residents of the area, Akhnoor, police and Army soldiers from the nearby Tanda Unit rushed to the spot and launched rescue operation. The Ambulances from Akhnoor and Chowki Choura hospitals were also rushed to the spot. All the injured were shifted to Sub District Hospital Akhnoor from where the critically injured were referred to GMC Hospital, Jammu.
BMO Akhnoor, Dr Mohd Salim Khan told that 22 people have died and 69 others are injured. “After providing initial treatment, 57 were referred to GMC, Jammu while others were provided first-aid at Akhnoor. All the 22 dead bodies were lying in the mortuary of SDH Akhnoor and 18 of them were identified till 7 pm, the BMO said.
Meanwhile, President Droupadi Murmu tweeted,” Pained beyond words to learn about the loss of lives in a bus accident in Akhnoor area near Jammu. My deepest condolences to the bereaved families. I wish speedy recovery of the injured.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia/relief in favour of the kin of each deceased person and Rs 50,000 for those injured. Expressing shock over the Akhnoor bus accident Modi said, ” Anguished by the loss of lives due to a bus mishap in Akhnoor.My thoughts are with those who have lost their loved ones. I pray that the injured recover soon.”
Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakhs in favour of the next of kin of each deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured in the tragic bus accident in Akhnoor.
Sinha expressed grief over the incident, and termed it heart-rendering. “The bus accident in Akhnoor is heart-rending. I condole the loss of lives and pray to the Almighty to give the bereaved families the strength to bear the irreparable loss. Praying for the speedy recovery of the injured,” the LG said.
Sinha said that the administration was providing all possible assistance to the “bereaved families” and is also extending Medical facilities to those who have been injured.
Union Minister in PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh tweeted,” Deeply saddened by the loss of several lives, following a bus mishap in Akhnoor area of Jammu. My office and our Karyakartas are in constant touch with the Administration. All possible help being provided. My sincere condolences to the bereaved families.”
The dead include, eight male, eight female and six children. They were identified as- Lakshman Parsad, son of Raghuni Parsad, resident of Naya Aligarh; Rudra, son of Lakshman Parsad; Anamika, wife of Lakshman Prasad; Naina, daughter of Lakshman Parsad; Smarjeet and his wife Seema from Hathras; Ranvir Singh from Hathras; Sonu, daughter of Subhash from Naya Aligarh; Sanjay Sinha, son of Sunder Singh from Naya Aligarh; Renu, wife of Jagveer Singh from Naya; Tanuj, son of Sanjay Sinha; Suresh, grandfather of Tanuj; Dharamwati, wife of Radhey Sham from Hathras; Prachi, daughter of Jitender from Hathras; Jai Parkash, son of Bhuri Singh from Naya Aligarh; Satveer- bus conductor; Radha, wife of Ravinder; Birpal, son of Prabhu Singh from Hathras; Rahul, son of Laturi Singh from Hathras; Sunita, wife of Bhagwan Singh from Naya Aligarh; Yash, son of Vijay Singh and Rajo, wife of Raj Kumnar, both from Hathras.
DIG Traffic Police Jammu , Dr Haseeb Mughal said that this bus was challaned by Traffic Police staff at Mishriwalla at 11.03 am today for over loading. He said about a dozen among the pilgrims on board the UP number bus, were children and they were in the lap of their parents. 3-4 cook/ helpers were also travelling in this bus and sitting in the driver’s cabin. He said the cause of accident could not be known so far but it has been learnt that driver was driving through out the night had a nap at Tungi Morh near Tanda and the bus rolled down into the deep gorge.
One of the injured passengers at Akhnoor hospital, however, revealed that driver could not negotiate the sharp curves the bus went out of contol and rolled down into the gorge. He also alleged that driver’s cabin was fully packed and people inside were gossiping there, diverting driver’s attention on this hilly route.
Sub Divisional Police Officer, Akhnoor, Mohan Lal Sharma said that death toll has reached 22 in bus accident as one more dead body of the child trapped in the wreckage of the vehicle was recovered in the evening. He said immediately after the accident, he and SHO Akhnoor rushed to the spot with police force.
He said Army accorded massive support in rescue operation. The Army cranes were used to pull the bus out of the gorge. The Army officers were also there to superwise the operation besides Civil and Police officers.
The SDPO said the injured, including six in a critical condition, were initially taken to the Akhnoor hospital for treatment. Subsequently, they were shifted to the GMC hospital in Jammu in ambulances.
” About 60 passengers have been brought to the GMC Jammu. Two of them are critical and have been put on ventilator. Timely treatment is being given to all the patients and most of the others are out of danger,” Principal of the GMC Jammu, Dr Ashutosh Gupta said.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Traffic, Jammu Faisal Qureshi, Transport Commissioner, Rajinder Singh Tara along with RTO Jammu Pankaj Bagotra, visited the spot and supervised the operation. Singh said that as per inputs and sight inspection, nap while driving appeared to be the reason behind this accident.
Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Ramesh Kumar, ADGP Anand Jain, SSP-Jammu Dr Vinod Kumar and Deputy Commissioner, Sachin K Vaishya visited the GMC hospital to inquire about the condition of injured. They asked the doctors to provide best possible treatment to the injured.
Meanwhile, District Magistrate Jammu, Sachin Kumar Vaishya has ordered a Magisterial inquiry to investigate the cause of accident. He ordered that Addl District Magistrate, Jammu shall submit the report within seven days in this regard.
This is the biggest accident in the region after a similar incident in Doda on November 15, 2023, in which 39 people were killed and 19 injured when a bus carrying passengers skidded off the road and rolled down into a deep gorge in the Trungal-Assar area of the district.
On July 1, 2019, 35 people were killed and 17 injured when an overloaded mini-bus fell into a gorge in Kishtwar’s Sangwari area.
On September 14, 2018, 17 passengers were killed and 16 injured when a mini-bus skidded off the road and rolled down into a gorge in the Dandaran area of district Kishtwar.
Meanwhile, BJP president Ravinder Raina visited GMC Hospital, Jammu and enquired about the condition of injured persons of Akhnoor bus accident.
Those injured in the accdent have been identified as- Raj Kuntal, son of Subash Chander from Raipur Mathura; Subash Chander, son of Lal Singh from Raipur; Sanjay, son of Gure Singh from Aligarh; Jai Veer, son of Gurey Singh, from Aligarh; Munni and Rajwati, wives of Satveer, from Bharatpur Rajasthan; Anju, wife of Jagbir from Bharatpur; Krishna, son of Jai Veer Singh from Aligarh; Gopal, son of Bhagwan Dass from Aligarh; Shanti Devi, wife of Mohinder from Aligarh; Bilo Devi, wife of Gotam from Aligarh, Gomati, wife of Rinku from Aligarh; Anushka and Janvi, daughters of Pawan, their brother Laksh Raj; Rinku Sharma, son of Mohinder Pal from Aligarh; Radhika, wife of Pawan Kumar from Aligarh; Satveer, son of Jangali Singh from Aligarh; Rakesh, son of Joginder from Aligarh; Sunita, wife of Bobby from Aligarh; Kajal, daughter of Satyender Singh from Aligarh; Jatin, son of Shamsher Singh from Halapur Haryana; Geeta Devi, wife of Shishupal from Hathras; Amarwati, wife of Ranbir from Mathura; Suman wife of Yamuna Parsad from Naya Aligarh; Munni, wife of Kumar Pal from Aligarh; Gotam Singh , son of Surinder Singh from Aligarh; Nilma, wife of Harveer from Bharatpur; Munni Devi, wife of Ram Krishan from Aligarh; Anupriya, daughter of Bal Krishan from Aligarh; Balkrishan, son of Raghunath Parsad from Aligarh; Sangeeta, wife of Arvinder from Mathura; Rakesh, son of Rajinder from Aligarh; Ranbir, son of Babu Lal from Mathura; Sangeeta, wife of Rashpal from Aligarh; Jai Shiv, son of Arvinder from Mathura; Arjun, son of Radhey Sham of Mathura; Raghbir, son of Harnam Singh of Daulatpur UP; Anju, daughter of Satpal of Aligarh; Devo from Aligarh; Geeta, wife of Chander Mohan of Mathura; Tanvir, son of Rakesh of Aligarh; Sharda Devi, wife of Shamveer Singh of Aligarh; Urmila, wife of Shamveer of UP; Umar Pal, son of Prabhu Singh of Hathras; Savitri, daughter of Jai Parkash from Hathras; Rashpal, son of Raginder from Aligarh; Suman, wife of Pritam of Aligarh, her son Gaurav; Radhika, wife of Pawan Kumar of Aligarh, Urvarshi, wife of Sanjay from UP; Geeta , wife of Jai Bir from Aligarh; Munni, wife of Ram Krishan of Aligarh; Anita, wife of Shabinder Singh of Aligarh; Shagvan Singh, son of Rajinder of Aligarh; Neelam, wife of Bhupinder of Mathura; Puniya, wife of Ardh Bihari from UP; Yogbir, son of Giriraj and his son Yash of Aligarh; Jatin, son of Ajit Lal of Mathura; Rajinder Singh, son of Shiv Ram of Aligarh; Shanker Singh, son of Raghunath Singh of Aligarh; Kamlesh, wife of Umar Pal of UP; Koushal, son of Sukhbir Singh of UP; Pranab, son of Bhubinder from Aligarh; Arav, son of Pritam from Aligarh; Rakesh, son of Than Singh of UP and Lalit Kumar, son of Sabar Singh from UP.