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Wedding celebrations turn into nightmare: Overloaded bus skids off road; 16 die, 49 injured
JAMMU/UDHAMPUR, Nov 24: At-least sixteen baratis, including two brothers of bridegroom, were killed and 49 others injured when an overloaded bus carrying a marriage party skidded off the road and rolled down into a deep gorge in Dudu area of Basantgarh in Udhampur district, this evening.

Police said that the ill-fated bus was carrying 75-80 baratis, including women and children, almost double from its actual capacity, when the mishap took place near Police Post Dudu about 70 km away from Udhampur, at 4.25 PM. Fourteen people were killed on the spot while two others succumbed to their wounds later while shifting them to the hospital. Both the bride and bridegroom were safe as they were travelling in a Maruti Van.

Reports from the accident site said that the bus bearing registration number JK02AJ-1735 carried a marriage party from Basantgarh to village Marothi, last evening. The bus was last evening driven by the actual driver Kesho Ram. Today when the barat was returning to village Marothi, another driver Shunnu Ram of Sudhmahadev started driving the bus. When the bus reached near Police Post Dudu, at-least 70 meters short of 187 Battalion CRPF Battalion, the driver Shunnu Ram, who was in inebriated condition as per baratis, lost control over the overloaded bus and it plunged about 150 feet down a deep gorge.

The bus took three to four turns before landing into the gorge. It hit several boulders due to which the bus was completely damaged and the baratis were pressed under the debris of mangled bus, reports claimed, adding that some of the baratis were thrown out of the bus while blood splattered all around with on spot death of fourteen passengers and injuries to forty-nine others. Some of the injured were critical and two of them later succumbed to their wounds while shifting to Primary Health Center (PHC) Latti.

Bridegroom Baldev Chand and his newly wed wife were safe as they were travelling in a Maruti van.

The police team led by In-charge Police Post Dudu Qasim Din under the supervision of Assistant Commandant 187 Battalion Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) PKS Sengar along with locals immediately started the rescue operation. They brought out the dead and injured from the wreckage of the mangled bus. The injured were shifted to PHC Latti in CRPF vehicle and a local tipper with no availability of any ambulance. The seriously injured were then referred to DH Udhampur and some to GMC hospital for advanced treatment. However, the doctors in PHC Latti failed to handle the rush of accident victims and after first-aid referred them to DH Udhampur.

Out of sixteen dead, six were identified as Parshotam Singh, son of Baldev Singh, Karnail Singh, son of Nasib Singh, Mohammad Shakeel, son of Mohammad Din, Dalip Kumar, son of Kirpal Singh and Balbir Singh, son of Bodh Raj all residents of Basantgarh.

"There are chances of the toll rising," said a senior police officer.

However, none of the senior officers of traffic police of administration managed to reach accident site till late evening.

Governor NN Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah have expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of lives.

Mountainous roads in Jammu region are notorious for road accidents. The mishaps are mostly attributed to overloading of passenger buses, poor maintenance of vehicles, and shabby road conditions coupled with lack of skills to drive in mountainous conditions.
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News Updated at : Saturday, November 24, 2012
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