At least 16 people were killed and 21 others were injured when a passenger bus plunged into a ravine in Dassu tehsil, Kohistan on Thursday morning.
The accident occurred when the bus, which was carrying 38 passengers, including 15 security personnel, was en route to Skardu from Rawalpindi via the Karakoram Highway (KKH). Those killed included eight security personnel and two policemen, who were on the way to join their units in Gilgit-Baltistan, official sources told The Express Tribune.
A police official said when the bus reached the Ooz Kamila village, some two kilometres from Dassu at around 3:35 am, the driver lost control of the steering wheel and the bus fell into a deep gorge, killing 16 passengers on the spot.
“It seemed that the driver had dozed off and lost control of the speeding vehicle,” Kohistan DPO Abdul Majeed Afridi told The Express Tribune.
According to another police official, however, the cause of the accident is yet to be established. The bus belonged to a private transport company – the K-2 Himalaya Company – that operates from Skardu and Gilgit to Rawalpindi.
Niaz Hussain, a manager at the company’s Skardu office, told The Express Tribune that the accident occurred in the mountainous Komila region where they are facing communication problems. According to reports reaching Gilgit, the driver also died in the accident which occurred due to speeding. “We believe a technical fault in the bus has led to the fatal accident,” Hussain said.
Twenty-one passengers were injured, 12 of whom are said to be in a critical condition. They have been shifted to the Ayub Medical Complex, an official source at the District Headquarters Hospital said.
Sources in the health department said that due to the severity of impact, many bodies were beyond recognition.
Only one passenger, Hussain, escaped unhurt, the police said. According to DPO Afridi, the bus fell on the roof of a house situated on the bank of River Indus, which blocked it from falling into the river.
“It would have been difficult for us to recover the bodies and the injured had the bus skidded a bit more,” said Afridi.
The bodies and the injured security personnel were shifted to Gilgit and Rawalpindi with the assistance of an army helicopter. Road accidents are common on the KKH, the highest paved international road in the world, which connects China and Pakistan.
WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHABBIR MIR IN GILGIT
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2012.
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