Jammu: Sixteen Amarnath pilgrims, mostly from Delhi and UP, were killed and as many injured when a truck ferrying them skidded off the road and plunged into a gorge in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir.
The mishap, which took place at Zamoorha Morh in Mansar belt, 50 kilometres from Jammu city, at 2330 hours last night when the driver was trying to negotiate a curve, is the second major accident involving pilgrims to the holy cave shrine within a fortnight.
Of the 16 dead, six each belonged to Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, three from MP an one from Kolkata. They were members of Delhi-based Shiv Shakti Community Kitchen Association, police said on Friday.
"The truck, which was carrying pilgrim volunteers engaged in a community kitchen at Amarnath, was returning when it skidded off the road and rolled down the gorge," District Development Commissioner (DDC), Samba, Mubarak Singh said.
While nine pilgrims died on the spot, three died in Samba Hospital and two died in Government Medical College (GMC) hospital in Jammu, he said.
Police, Army and BSF teams rushed to the spot and launched a rescue operation under search lights with the help of locals.
They shifted 16 injured, including the driver, first to Samba District hospital and later to the Government Medical College (GMC)in Jammu. Two other pilgrims who sustained minor injuries were discharged after first-aid.
All the bodies have been shifted from Samba district hospital to GMC and have been identified.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah have expressed grief over the loss of lives.
Vohra, who is also the chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), asked DGP Ashok Prasad to review the causes of frequent mishaps, particularly on several stretches of the National Highway.
On July 14, fifteen pilgrims were killed when a SRTC bus bringing pilgrims back from the yatra, had rolled down a gorge near Ramban on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.