26 children killed in PaK accident
MUZAFFABAD, Sept 21: As many as 26 schoolchildren, aged between 3 to 13 years, were killed by drowning after a school van fell into River Jhelum near here on Tuesday, plunging the entire area into unremitting shock and gloom, officials said.
The ill-fated vehicle – a mini bus - was carrying 30 children, including two non-school goers, to a private school when it fell into the river from the narrow but metaled road on the outskirts of Hattian Dupatta, some 26 kilometers south of there, they said.
River Jhelum, whose level has lately receded, flows hardly 15 feet beneath the spot from where the vehicle dived into it, allegedly due to negligence of driver, Muhammad Shafi, who himself survived.
“The violent current swept away the vehicle but local residents immediately rescued three girls and a boy with some injuries,” Ghazanfar Abdullah, a resident of the area told Greater Kashmir.
The wreckage of the vehicle was retrieved some 300 yards ahead of the site of accident but there was no victim in it, he added.
The victims belonged to Kanina and Chathiyan villages, along the main Jhelum valley road, from where they were coming to their school in colourful dresses to attend an Eid Milan party, an official said.
The school was established by a foreign NGO in Khatpura village, on the right bank of River Jhelum, after the devastating October 2005 earthquake.
Fifteen bodies were fished out from different parts of the river by 2 pm while one more was retrieved by Maghrib prayers from Ambore camp.
Efforts were continuing to retrieve the remaining missing children, but officials had ruled out any survival.
“The death toll is 26 and the bodies of 10 of them are yet to be recovered,” assistant commissioner Hattian Bala Raja Mahmood Shahid told Dawn on Tuesday evening.
Following were the names of the victims, according to Mr Shahid.
Tayyiba Siddique and her sister Aneeba; Fareeha Khurshid; Mohammad Ejaz and his sister Sadia; Hira and her siblings Areej, Quratul Ain, Nurul Ain and 3-year old Dawood Ramzan; Sana; Falak; Sehar Bashir and her siblings Aroosa and Natasha; Rukhsana and her brother Amaan; Asma and her brothers Sajid and Abdullah (4 years old); Shakil and his brother Nabil (their third sibling Naveed was injured); Hamid and his sister Faiza; ; Shiraz; Amna (her three sisters Sidra, Nagarish and Khizra were injured).
The burial of all sixteen whose bodies had been recovered had been performed in their respective villages, according to Mr Shahid.
Police had arrested the slightly injured driver who, according to some witnesses, was attending a phone call when the vehicle went out of his control.
Road accidents are common in PaK , and are mostly blamed on dilapidated roads, faulty vehicles and careless driving.
Early last month, more then 37 people were killed by drowning when a passenger bus, with nearly 60 persons on board, had fallen into River Jhelum due to reckless driving.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 21 Sep 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 21 Sep 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 22 Sep 2010 00:00:00 IST
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