26 missing in Jammu and Kashmir bus accident (Lead)

June 7th, 2009 - 7:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, June 7 (IANS) At least 26 people were missing after a mini bus with 30 people on board swerved off a mountain road and plunged into a swollen river in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district Sunday.
Two women, a child and the conductor fell out of the bus as it rolled down into the Chenab river, and were seriously injured. Police said chances of survival of the missing passengers were “remote”.

The missing passengers could be drowned, but no dead body was recovered as the “current of water in the river is very fast and it is swollen also”, a police officer said.

According to the injured passengers, there were about 30 people, including the driver and the conductor, in the bus when the accident occurred at Karara in Doda district, about 180 km northeast of Jammu.

District police chief Prabhat Singh told reporters that the bus, with a capacity of 26 people, rolled down 500 feet from the highway into the swollen Chenab river in the morning.

“We have no idea about the casualty as yet. But there is very remote chance of survival (of any passenger),” he said.

“The bus is completely submerged and we cannot see it. The Indian Army has been pressed into rescue, but the rapid current and deep water are hampering the operation.”

Singh said the four survivors have been shifted to a hospital. “They are in deep shock,” he said.

Mountainous roads in Jammu region are notorious for road accidents. At least 30 people were killed in May near Kishtwar in an accident.

The accidents are mostly attributed to overloading of passenger buses, poor maintenance of vehicles, and shabby road conditions coupled with lack of mountain driving skills.

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