BALAKOT: At least 27 people, including 10 Pakistan Army soldiers, were killed while 10 others sustained critical injuries when a speeding passenger bus rammed into a cliff at Gati Das near Babusar Top, bordering Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province with Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on Sunday morning.
According to the Diamer police, the bus en route to Rawalpindi from Skardu was carrying 37 passengers, including the army personnel, when the incident took place, adding that the deceased included four women and six children as well.
Police said the bus driver lost control while making a sharp turn due to speeding and hit a cliff, resulting in the fatal accident.
Army helicopters, ambulance and rescue teams reached the accident site and shifted the bodies and injured to nearby hospitals – District Headquarter Hospital, Chilas and Combined Military Hospital Gilgit.
Local government spokesperson Faizullah Faraq confirmed the number of casualties.
Local administration official Aurangzeb Haider told AFP four women and six children were among the dead, while senior police official Zaibullah Khan said six of the injured were in critical condition.
G-B chief minister spokesperson Rasheed Arshad confirmed there were 16 Pakistan Army personnel on the bus, saying most passengers were from Skardu or other parts of Gilgit-Baltistan.
He said an emergency response helpline (05815920200) had been activated to assist the affected families.
Later in the day, the Inter-Services Public Relations also confirmed the death of 10 army soldiers in the accident.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who reached the United States on Saturday for this week’s United Nations General Assembly session, also expressed his grief over the tragedy.
In a statement, the premier offered condolences to all affected families and ordered officials to ensure the best quality medical treatment for the injured.
Pakistan has a poor traffic safety record, with frequent fatal accidents blamed on reckless driving, bad roads and shoddily maintained vehicles.