Locals blame dilapidated and poorly designed link roads for the mishap
At least nine passengers, including four women, were killed and five injured on Wednesday after a taxi skidded off the road and plunged into a water channel along the Line of Control (LoC) in Hattian Bala district of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The taxi (bearing registration number AJKC-9888) was carrying mourners heading to Chakothi for a funeral from Shah Kanja village of Khilana Valley when the accident took place around 8:30 am at Dakhan, said deputy commissioner Hattian Bala Abdul Hameed Kiani.
“Nine persons died on the spot while five others were injured in the accident,” he said.
The watercourse, in which the taxi landed after the mishap, serves as LoC in parts of Khilana Valley, located 10 kilometres towards the south of Chakothi. The Kaman Bridge at Chokothi-Uri crossing point crosses the same ravine.
Kiani said that the information reached them late as there was no cellular phone coverage in most of Khilana Valley due to its proximity to the LoC. He said that locals had shifted the bodies and the injured to the road from the ravine.
The deceased were identified as Khurshid Abbasi, Gulzar Minhas (driver), Haider Jan, Akbar Hussain, Saeeda Manzoor, Saeeda Khadim, Mumtaz Rafique, Muhammad Siddique, and Bibi Jan.
The injured – identified as Nazir Fatima, Raja Aftab, Syed Fayyaz Gillani, 10-year-old Arsalan and two-year-old Afiyan Imran – were admitted to District Headquarters Hospital Hattian Bala.
The residents blamed the dilapidated and poorly designed link roads in the hilly areas for the accident.
“Link roads are being carved out in hilly areas without any proper engineering survey and design. Even a goods-laden donkey cannot steadily walk on these roads, let alone vehicles which are mostly outdated,” said a visibly perturbed local, who identified himself as Mohammad Aslam.