RAWALPINDI: More than a dozen passengers died and over 38 were injured when two passenger buses fell off a cliff into a gorge during rainy weather near Saalgran, some 25 kilometres from Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Wednesday.
Army troops were also present on site to assist the civil administration in rescue operations. Two buses, with over 80 passengers on board, were heading towards Rawalpindi from Murree when both plunged into a 150 feet deep gorge, the police said.
The buses slipped after colliding with each other while overtaking at a sharp turn near a bridge. A state of emergency has been declared at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and Polyclinic to provide medical treatment to the injured people.
Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, taking serious notice of the unfortunate accident, has asked the top police and administrative authorities to supervise the rescue operation.
“Both the buses were going in the same direction when the rammed into each other and fell one after the other, as drivers of both the vehicles lost control over the vehicles,” a local resident of Saalgran, who witnessed the episode said and added that a bus fell right over the other bus. Consequently, the passengers of both buses got badly trapped in the wreckage.
Hundreds of locals of Saalgran rushed to the scene soon after the occurrence and started rescuing the passengers, the witnesses said, adding that about ten people died on the spot while the others died later.
The locals shifted most of the wounded persons to PIMS well before any official help reached the scene.
The rescuers faced difficulties in helping survivors due to rain, severe cold and darkness while the wreckage of both buses was lying in the cold water of a drain.