MUZAFFARABAD, June 10: In a dreadful accident, 14 students died on Friday morning after their van plunged into a canal in AJK’s southernmost Bhimber district.
The van (AJKD-6675) was taking 16 students from Ali Baig and Ghazi Ghora villages to two educational institutions in Jari Kas and Mirpur city when it met the tragic incident about 6:30am due to speeding, Khawaja Mohammad Naeem, deputy commissioner Bhimber, told Dawn by telephone.
The rescue operation was launched by civilian and military officials shortly afterwards, recovering three children alive but one of them died on the way to the hospital. He added the rescuers have recovered 11 bodies and were searching for the remaining two.
Mr Naeem said normally the driver would take a kacha shorter route to ferry the children to and from their educational institutions but as that track was blocked on Friday, he drove through the main road.
Because of speeding, the DC said the driver lost control while crossing a bridge on Upper Jhelum Canal. “The driver jumped out of the vehicle before it fell into the water channel and fled.”
The deceased, six of whom were children of two brothers who also owned the vehicle, were identified as Arbaz, 13, Omair, 11, and Rehan, 9, (children of Zulfiqar); Sufyan, 6, Usman, 7, and Faizan, 14, (children of Zafar); and Ayesha, 12, Wali Farooq, 7, Mariya Salim, 18, Luqman Siddique, 11, Arman Saghar, 9, Momina, 13, Shazrab Ali, 8, and Mohammad Qasim, 10.
The bodies of Usman and Faizan had not been recovered till the filing of this report. The two survivors, Umar Farooq, 17, and Asim Junaid, 12, were stable and had been sent home.
Friday’s incident revived the heartrending memories of last September’s similar incident in Muzaffarabad in which 26 schoolchildren were killed after their bus plunged into Jhelum River.Dawn