GILGIT / MANSEHRA: Twenty-six people died and at least 20 others were injured when a bus bound for Rawalpindi from Skardu hit a small hill near Babusar Pass in the Diamer district on Sunday morning.
Ten soldiers on board the bus also lost their lives as did three children and eight women. The officials had not yet determined the cause of the tragic accident.
The Mashabrum Tours bus (BLN-A1495), which left Skardu on Saturday night, was headed to Rawalpindi on the Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad road when it crashed into the small hill around 7 a.m., authorities said.
Twenty-five passengers died at the scene while another died in the hospital, according to Balakot's assistant commissioner, Sameer Hussain Laghari, who rushed to the scene after the collision.
"We have cleared the scene of the accident since the 26 dead and 20 injured have been transferred to nearby hospitals in the districts of Mansehra and Chilas," he said.
The villagers of Kaghan and Chilas, together with the police, transferred the injured and deceased to civilian hospitals in Naran and Chilas, where it was said that four victims were in critical condition.
10 soldiers were among the victims; the cause of the accident remains unknown
The injured passengers told police that the bus was moving fast, but they were not sure if it got out of control due to reckless driving or if their brakes developed a fault. "We have been confirming the exact cause of the accident," Laghari said.
He said eight injured were taken to a civil hospital in Naran and 12 to a civil hospital in Chilas.
"We call six ambulances and an equal number of other vehicles to transfer the injured to Gattidas hospitals, where there is no intact communication system," added the assistant commissioner.
"An army helicopter landed on the site and transported the wounded by air, including four army cipayos, to Gilgit-Baltistan," Mr. Laghari said.
He said injured women and children were also taken to hospitals.
A press release issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that 10 soldiers were among the 26 dead whose bodies were taken to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Gilgit.
"Army troops undertook rescue and relief operations for an unfortunate bus accident," the ISPR said, adding that army aviation helicopters evacuated the injured to CMH Gilgit for treatment.
Dr. Ziaul Haq, head of the civil hospital in Naran, told the media that four of the wounded who were taken to the health center were army soldiers.
Army helicopters transported six injured passengers to Gilgit CMH, while five seriously injured passengers were transported to Abbottabad by ambulance.
According to the relevant authorities, the bus passengers came from the district of Skardu and Ghanche, and the 16 army personnel belonged to different areas of the country. Later, some of the passengers were identified as Akhtar Ismail, Mohammad Ali and their five relatives, Sakhawat, Fida Hussain and Syed Zain.
The Gilgit-Baltistan government spokesman, Faizullah Faraq, told Dawn that the bus hit a rock in Gatidas near the top of Babusar. The area located about 13,000 feet above sea level connects Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Faraq said the cause of the accident had not yet been determined. However, I thought there were two possible reasons. Either the bus brakes had failed or the driver had fallen asleep on the road, he added.
Only three weeks ago, 24 passengers died when a high-speed bus fell off a hilly road on a river in Kohistan.
Later, the Commander of the Force of the Commander of the Northern Areas (FCNA) General Ehsan Mehmood Khan visited the area of Babusar, Chilas and the hospital of the headquarters of the district of Diamer.
The ISPR stated: “Army troops carried out rescue and relief operations for victims of bus accidents in Babusar Top. Pakistan army aviation helicopters injured evacuated, transported by air [them] to Gilgit Combined Military Hospital for medical treatment. "
He added that the bodies of 26 passengers, including the 10 army soldiers who lost their lives in the accident, were also transferred to the CMH.
According to the sources, after the identification of the victims in the CMH, the bodies will be handed over to their heirs.
Meanwhile, Britain's Prime Minister Hafeezur Rehman, Governor Raja Jalal Hussain Maqpoon, the leaders of the political and religious party expressed their regret for the fatal accident.
Posted on Dawn, September 23, 2019