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10 Vaishno Devi pilgrims dead, 57 injured in bus accident

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LG approves Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia each for NoK of deceased, Rs 50, 000 for injured; CS visits GMC

STATE TIMES NEWS

Jhajjar Kotli: Ten Vaishno Devi pilgrims, most of them from Bihar, were killed and 57 injured on Tuesday as the bus they were travelling in skidded off the road and rammed into the railing of a bridge before falling off it, officials said.
The death toll may go up as Government Medical College Hospital Principal Shashi Soodan said two of the injured admitted there are critical.
The officials said the bus, which was on its way to Katra from Amritsar, met with the accident in Jhajjar Kotli area on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway between 6.30 and 7 am. Katra is a base camp for the pilgrims visiting the famous shrine atop the Trikuta hills.
They said most of the travellers were members of an extended family from Bihar’s Lakhisarai and were on pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi temple for a ritual of a child.
“The accident took place at Jhajjar Kotli bridge. Ten people have died. Rescue operation is almost complete,” Jammu Senior Superintendent of Police Chandan Kohli told PTI. “We are investigating the reasons behind the accident.”
Local residents, CRPF and police personnel rushed to the spot and launched the rescue operation.
“The troops of 137 CRPF battalion carried out the rescue operation to evacuate injured driver and passengers from the bus, which turned turtle and fell down from Jhajjar Kotli bridge on highway,” the force said in a tweet.
“Two persons were brought dead while others died on the spot,” said GMC hospital principal Soodan.
Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbagh Singh said prima facie, the cause of accident appeared to be human error or over speeding.
“It is possible that the driver might have dozed off on the wheel. It’s a high flyover kind of road from where the bus fell off, so the reason could also be overspeeding. It is part of our investigation,” he told reporters.
A CRPF officer said 10 bodies have been recovered.
As per police statement, the ten deceased have been identified as driver Ganesh Sharma resident of son of Jagdish Sharma resident of Amritsar, Punjab, Kailash Sharma age 65 yrs son of Sita Ram resident of Lakhisarai, Bihar, Lalita Devi age 30 yrs wife of Manoj Kumar resident of Amritsar, Punjab, Krish Sharma age 12 yrs son of Manij resident of Amritsar, Punjab, Arvind Sharma son of Mohinder Sharma resident of Amritsar, Punjab, Bimla Devi wife of Meena Sharma, Phooli Devi wife of Mohinder Sharma resident of Uttar Pradesh, . Kunti Devi age 50 yrs wife of Girdhari Sharma, Rajinder age 45 yrs resident of Lakhisarai, Bihar and Julli Devi wife of Arvind Sharma resident Bihar.
Moreover, 66 injured have been identified as Rohan Sharma (27) of Lakhisaryi Bihar, Muna Sharma (27)of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Shallu Kumari (18)of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Nisha Kumari (17 )of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Lov Sharma (13) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Baso Mistri (60)of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Kunti Devi (50) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Batul Devi ( 50) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Abhishek Kumar (21) of Lakhisaryi Bihar , Himanshu Sharma (13) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Biba Sharma (28) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Lado (2) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Jaana Sharma (50) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Banarsi Sharma (50) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Lakshman (32) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Dinesh Sharma (40) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Ram Dulari Devi (55) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Pintu Kumar (20) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Radia Devi (60)of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Parteema Devi (40)of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Abhishesk (18) Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Nitish (20)of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Poonam Sharma (45)of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Rubi Devi (35) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Nitu Devi (35) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Payal (18) Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Shobha (19) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Geeta Devi (35) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Vikash ( 35) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Parva Devi (60) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Ravinder Panday (63) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Unknown male age approx 50 yrs of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Gopali Mistri (65)of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Chinta Devi (64) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Bittu (20) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Pankaj Kumar (21)of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Nitika (11) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Phool Devi (60) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Ajay Sharma (47)of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Nageshwari Devi (60) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Sushant (27) Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Rohit Sharma (23) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Avinash Kumar (29) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Prince (13) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Virnder Sharma (65) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Ryansh (4) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Pooja Sharma (35) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Bimla Devi (50) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Manoj Sharma (41) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, .Preeti (16 ) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Vinesh Sharma (45) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Rahul (8) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Soni (5) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Rajesh Sharma (35) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar , Malti Sharma ( 26) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Roohi (6 Months) of Lakhisharyi Bihar, Pooja (35) of Lakhisaryi Bihar, Komal Sharma (11) of Bihar, Sarita (12) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Ranjana (35) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Sonu (18) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Ram Brij ( 60) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar, Sarju Devi (35) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar and Ankush Sharma (22) of Lakhhisaryi Bihar.
Lt Governor Manoj Sinha approved an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each for the next of kin of those who lost their lives and Rs 50,000 each for those seriously injured. Condoling the deaths, he said in a tweet, “Extremely pained by the loss of lives in a tragic bus accident in Jhajjar Kotli, Jammu. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families & prayers for speedy recovery of the injured. Directed district administration to provide all possible assistance & treatment to the injured.”
Ravinder Panday, one of the travellers, said they felt that something hit the bus. “It lost balance and rolled down,” he said.
The accident site looked horrific with bodies trapped under the mangled remains of the bus.
Describing the accident, witnesses said the bus was in the left lane, but it crossed over to the right side after the driver lost control, hit the railing of the bridge and fell down into a gorge.
The front wheels came off and got stuck in the parapet of the bridge.
“We were going to pay obeisance at the Mata Vaishno Devi temple and perform ‘mundan’ (rituals related to shaving a baby’s hair for the first time). We were several families together,” said Ramesh Kumar, who escaped unhurt.
For the journey to Katra, the vehicle, carrying a registration number of Uttar Pradesh (UP 81 CT 3537), should have taken a left turn nearly two km before the spot of accident, but passengers said the driver seemed to have lost the direction and was probably going to the Udhampur-Srinagar side of the highway.
Chief Secretary Arun K Mehta, DGP Singh, ADGP (Jammu Zone) Mukesh Singh and other senior officials visited the Jammu GMC Hospital to enquire about the condition of the injured.
The Chief Secretary called the incident highly unfortunate and directed that the injured may be provided best possible medical care.
He prayed for those who lost their lives in the mishap and extended his heartfelt condolences to their families, saying the government would extend all necessary facilities to the victims.
He said the government is going to provide adequate relief to the families of dead and those injured in the mishap. He directed the Divisional Administration to look into the causes of the road accident so that such incidents are avoided in future.
Speaking to reporters, Mehta said all possible help and the best of treatment are being provided to the injured.
Condoling the loss of lives, BJP J&K president Ravinder Raina said, “We stand by their families in times of grief.”
Chairman Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) Ghulam Nabi Azad expressed grief over the loss of lives in a bus accident, saying , “I send my heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved families and wish those injured a speedy recovery.”
Soon after learning about the accident near Katra in Reasi district, Azad asked party leaders and workers to visit the spot and provide all assistance to the injured and victims.
“Pained to know about the loss of lives in Jhajjar Kotli, Jammu bus accident. I appeal to my party workers in the area to provide all possible assistance to the injured and families of those who have died,” Azad said in a statement.
On the directions of Chairman DPAP, chief spokesperson Salman Nizami, and District President Jammu (Urban) Gourav Chopra on Tuesday visited the injured in the hospital and extended every possible help.
They also expressed solidarity with the bereaved families and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured.
Azad also urged the government to provide all medical assistance to the injured and compensation to the kin of victims. Besides, he demanded a proper probe into the regular accidents in Jammu province as reports of accidents are being received on a daily basis.
Ajatshatru Singh, senior BJP leader and former minister expressed grief over the loss of lives in an accident. Ajatshatru prayed for peace to the departed souls and fortitude to the bereaved families. He also prayed for speedy recovery of the injured and impressed upon the divisional administration in Jammu to ensure the affected families get relief and adequate ex gratia.

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