Jammu: 15 persons were killed and 18 injured when a bus ferrying Amarnath pilgrims from Kashmir Valley plunged into a 300-feet deep gorge on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Ramban district apparently after the driver fell asleep.
The State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) bus was carrying 32 pilgrims, mostly from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, who were returning from the shrine. It was on its way from Srinagar to Jammu last night when the accident occurred, SP Ramban Anil Magotra told PTI.
A survivior claimed that the accident occurred after the driver fell asleep. The driver, identified Angrez Singh from Ramban in J&K, was among those killed in the mishap that occurred about 140 kms from here.
"When the bus reached at Digdol on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Ramban at about 2320 hours last night, it rolled down a 300-feet deep gorge, as a result of which 11 people died on the spot and 22 got critically injured, the SP said.
The injured were evacuated and shifted to District Hospital Ramban where three of them succumbed to injuries.
19 injured were referred to Government Medical College (GMC) hospital in Jammu for specialised treatment, where one passenger namely Jagan Nath of Darbanga (Bihar) succumbed to injuries, the SP said.
Magotra, who led the night-long rescue operation, said that operation have been concluded this morning.
Five of the 15 dead have been identified. Three of them hail from Bihar and one from UP. Of the 18 injured, 14 are from Bihar and three from UP.
The bodies have been shifted to GMC Jammu for identification.
The dead have been identified Samod Kumar of Keerthpur Tehsil of district Vishali (Bihar), Joyti Devi of Sahas Ram of district Darbanga (Bihar), Meeran Devi of Karote Tehsil in Saleempur (UP), Angreez Singh (driver) of Sooli Gam Tehsil in District Ramban and Jagan Nath of Darbanga (Bihar).
"The driver was sleepy when the mishap took place on the highway," said Arvind, an injured passenger who was admitted to Government Medical College (GMC) hospital in Jammu winter capital city.