Atleast 22 dead as van plunges into ravine in Balochistan

Exact cause of crash yet to be ascertained

Picture Source - AFP

A van veered off a narrow mountain road and plummeted into a ravine near Qila Saifullah in Balochistan on Wednesday, killing 22 passengers and injuring a child.

Women and children were among the dead. The passenger van was travelling on Zhob National Highway when it plunged hundreds of feet into a ravine.  The ill-fated van, with approximately 23 people on board, had left Loralai for Zhob, the district’s deputy commissioner said. “The vehicle fell from a hilltop near Akhtarzai and 22 travellers aboard were reportedly killed in the accident,” he said.

Akhtarzai is a tribal area located at an elevation of 1,572 metres in Zhob. He initially said 18 people died in the accident but later added that rescuers retrieved four more bodies from the badly destroyed wreckage of the van.

Rescue 1122 officials said that a minor boy was injured in the accident and was referred to Quetta for medical treatment. The exact cause of the crash was not immediately known.

Authorities said the weather was fine at the time of the crash, and that police officers were looking into possible mechanical problems or human error as witnesses said the van appeared to be speeding when it lost control and fell into the ravine. A witness, Abdul Ali, told a news agency that he was travelling on the same road on a motorcycle when he saw the “small bus” going faster, skidding and falling into the ravine. The DC said that an emergency had been imposed at hospitals located in the area. Immediately after the accident was reported, condolences started pouring in.

In a statement, President Dr. Arif Alvi expressed grief over the loss of lives and prayed for the peace of the departed souls. He also emphasised the need for measures to prevent such accidents in the future.

Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo extended his condolences to the deceased and their families. He also instructed the provincial health department to provide the best medical treatment to the injured child. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called on the authorities to take adequate steps to avoid such accidents in the future.

In July last year, a jam-packed bus carrying mostly labourers travelling home rammed into a container truck on a busy highway in Punjab, killing at least 33 people.