In a deadly road accident on Saturday morning, at least 20 people were killed and 12 injured when a minibus fell into a deep gorge on the Jammu-Srinagar highway near Banihal.A police official said the jam-packed minibus was going to Ramban from Banihal. On reaching Kela Morh near Maroof, the driver lost control and the vehicle rolled down the 200-ft-deep gorge, he saide said.Bodies of 20 people were retrieved from the accident site. Of the 12 injured, the condition of 5 was stated to be critical and they have been airlifted to Jammu for specialised treatment," Deputy Inspector General of Police, Doda-Kishtwar-Ramban range.”Police and Army personnel, along with local volunteers, were engaged in the rescue operation. It took time for the rescuers to reach the ill-fated vehicle due to the steep slope, he said, adding the rescue operation was still continuing when last reports were received.Leaders cutting across party lines and affiliation while expressing shock over the incident expressed solidarity with the bereaved families.
Governor Satya Pal Malik in his message prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families.He has wished speedy recovery to those injured in this accident.Governor directed the District administration Ramban to provide best possible health care to those injured in government hospitals. Governor has announced ex-gratia relief of Rs. 5 lakh for the next of the kin of those dead and Rs. 50,000 for those injured in the accident.PDP President and former Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti expressed profound grief and sorrow over the loss of more than 20 lives in a tragic road accident.Conveying her heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved families, the PDP President has sought immediate release of ex gratia and other assistance in the favour.Mehbooba Mufti also asked the Jammu divisional administration to take all the measures needed for administering speedy medical facilities to the injured in the accident. “Tragic news of the bus accident in Ramban earlier this morning with more than 15 deaths being reported along with numerous injuries. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased & prayers for the injured,” tweeted Omar Abdullah. (CNS)