SRINAGAR: At least 17 passengers were killed and 16 others injured, some of them critically, when a minibus skidded off the road and fell into a gorge near Chenab River in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.
A police officer said the driver of the minibus which was on the way to Kishtwar from Keshwan, lost control of the vehicle near Drabadan-Thakraie road at Tahgatan and the vehicle plunged into the gorge.
He said 33 people, including the driver and the conductor, were travelling in the 25-seater minibus when the mishap took place.
Immediately after the accident, locals, police and Army men rushed to the area to rescue the injured and shift them to hospitals. The rescue teams also retrieved bodies of 16 passengers.
The dead include three women and driver of the ill-fated passenger vehicle.
Eleven of the injured were evacuated to Government Medical College Jammu for specialised treatment where one of them succumbed to injuries, taking the death toll to 17.
Defence spokesman in Jammu Lt Col Devender Anand said Indian Air Force pressed a MI-V5 chopper into service and airlifted eight critically-injured victims to Jammu hospital.
This was the third major road accident in the mountainous district in the last one month as at least 20 people were killed in two different accidents earlier.
Overloading by bus operators and the bad shape of roads is said to be a major cause of road accidents in the region.
Meanwhile, State Governor Satya Pal Malik expressed grief over the loss of lives in the tragic road accident and announced Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia relief for the next of the kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to each of those injured in this accident.