Four persons were charred to death and 24 others suffered burn injuries when a passenger bus, carrying Vaishnodevi pilgrims, mysteriously caught fire on Katra-Jammu road on Friday. Eyewitnesses said that the passenger bus, bearing registration number JK14-8131, was full of Vaishnodevi pilgrims and was on its way to Jammu from Katra, when the mishap occurred.
The bus, according to the witnesses, was outside the town of Katra when it mysteriously caught fire. In panic, the passengers jumped out of the burning bus, they said, and added that the police and fire and emergency department’s fire fighters also rushed to the spot. The FSL team also rushed to the spot and police also started investigation in the incident.
Officials said that although efforts were made to douse the fire, the bus was gutted badly in the fire, the cause of which is part of the investigation. The injured passengers were evacuated and shifted with the help of locals and passerby by the police to the nearest hospital for treatment. Officials said that out of twenty-two injured, ten with critical burn injuries were shifted to Government Medical College (GMC) hospital Jammu for specialised treatment.
After the incident, ADGP Jammu zone Mukesh Singh stated that as per preliminary details, the bus caught fire from the engine area which soon engulfed the whole bus. “A local bus No.JK14/1831 on the way from Katra to Jammu caught fire about 1 km from Katra. Probable cause is being ascertained. FSL team deputed on spot. 02 persons died on spot & 20 injured shifted to Katra. Out of which 03 referred for specialised treatment. Details will follow,” ADGP Jammu had tweeted. He tweeted again to update the information.
“Update: regarding Bus No JK 14/1831 which caught fire near Kharmal Katra. Out of the injured two more succumbed to their injuries taking the death toll to 04 persons,” he tweeted.
The Union Minister of State in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh, after the accident, also tweeted, “Immediately after receiving information of bus mishap at Katra, just now spoke to Deputy Commissioner Reasi (J&K) Ms Babila Rakwal. 2 casualties reported, Injured shifted to Naraina hospital. All possible help, financially and otherwise, will be provided to the injured.” Meanwhile, the Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) expressed deep shock over the death of 4 persons and multiple injuries to over 2 dozen in the moving bus from Katra to Jammu at Nomai, about 3 kilometers from Katra this afternoon.
Anita Thakur and Balwan Singh JKNPP general secretaries expressed sympathy and condolences to the bereaved families who lost their dear ones in the mishap. They further urged the district authorities to extend specialized treatment to the injured and compensation to kin of those who lost their bread earners or members of the family. Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha on Friday announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh each for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives in the tragic bus incident in Katra.
The Lieutenant Governor expressed grief over the unfortunate incident and directed the district administration to ensure the best possible treatment to the injured. “Extremely pained by the loss of lives in the tragic bus incident in Katra. I offer my deepest condolences to the bereaved families and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured”, the Lt Governor said.