20 dead as mini-bus falls into gorge on Jammu-Srinagar national highway

An "overcrowded' minibus fell into a deep gorge on Saturday after the driver lost control over the vehicle on Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Ramban district, leaving 20 persons dead and 16 injured, a senior police official said.

Among the dead were four women and the driver. Ten critically injured passengers were airlifted from the accident site to Army hospital at Udhampur and two others to Jammu, officials said

The vehicle was on its way to Ramban town from Banihal when the accident occurred at around 9.55 am. The driver lost control over the "overcrowded" vehicle which rolled down the 200-ft-deep gorge at Kela Morh near Maroof,  Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Doda-Kishtwar-Ramban range, Rafiq-ul-Hassan, told PTI.

Local volunteers launched a rescue operation soon after the accident and were shortly joined by the quick reaction teams of police and Army, officials said.

Deputy Commissioner, Ramban, Showkat Aijaz and Senior Superintendent of Police Anita Sharma reached the site to supervise the rescue operation and subsequently requisitioned choppers to airlift the critically injured persons.

A total of six sorties were made by Army's Chetah and Cheetak helicopters, a private airliner and a state helicopter.

"The critically injured persons were airlifted to Army hospital at Udhampur and Government Medical College hospital Jammu for specialized treatment," the DIG said and praised the rescuers for reaching the accident victims "in the shortest possible time", thus saving many lives. 

PTI