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    Wednesday, 21 March 2018

    At least 9 killed in Dakhana (AJK) as jeep plunges into ravine

    At least nine people, including four women, were killed and five others, including a woman and a minor, were wounded when a passenger jeep plunged into a ravine along the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir's (AJK) Jhelum Valley on Wednesday, police said.
    The jeep was on its way to Chakothi from Shah Kanja village when it met the tragic accident at about 8:30am near Dakhan area, said Deputy Commissioner Hattian Bala Abdul Hameed Kiani.
    Chakothi is some 60 kilometres south of Muzaffarabad and Shah Kanja is another 10km ahead of it in Khalana Valley. The ravine which the vehicle fell into flows through Khalana Valley and joins the River Jhelum after passing beneath Kaman Bridge at the Chokothi-Uri crossing point.
    Kiani said that the area where the accident occurred did not have cellular service coverage so the details of the accident reached administrative officials after a while.“I can confirm that nine people, including the driver, lost their lives in the tragic incident on the spot while another five people have been injured,” he said.
    The deceased were identified as Khurshid Abbasi, Gulzar Minhas, Haider Jan, Akbar Hussain, Saeeda Manzoor, Saeeda Khadim, Mumtaz Rafique, all of whom were residents of Shah Kanja village; Muhammad Siddique, a resident of Bandi Bala; and Bibi Jan, a resident of Barri Behak village.
    The injured, four of whom were identified as Raja Aftab, 60, Syed Fayyaz Gillani, 58, Arsalan, 10, and Nazir Fatima, 40, were admitted to District Headquarters Hospital Hattian Bala, where the condition of one of them was said to be critical.
    There were reports that the death toll had risen to 10, but Kiani could not immediately confirm the reports.
    Residents of the area said dilapidated and poorly designed link roads in the hilly areas are one of the reasons behind frequent road accidents, in addition to faulty and outdated vehicles.
    “Link roads are being carved out in hilly areas without any proper engineering survey and design. Even a goods-laden donkey cannot steadily walk through these link roads, let alone vehicles which are mostly outdated,” said a visibly perturbed local who identified himself as Mohammad Aslam.
    According to residents, most of the vehicles running along different routes have either outlived their normal life span or have been locally altered to accommodate a maximum load beyond their actual loading capacity. Locals have also accused the authorities of turning a blind eye to this issue, despite hue and cry from members of civil society.
    “The accident should serve as an eye opener for the government to redetermine its priorities," said Mohammad Deen Mughal, another resident of the area.
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