16 Hindu pilgrims die on way to shrine in India’s Kashmir
At least 16 pilgrims from India’s Hindu community have died while traveling on a bus to a shrine in the Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Police said Sunday that the bus plunged into a 45-meter-deep (150-foot-deep) gorge, leaving 27 injured, 19 of them in critical condition.
A police statement added that all the injured were taken to hospitals in Banihal, a town 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Srinagar, the capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir. Authorities also sent helicopters to airlift some of the victims.
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “extremely pained by the loss of lives” among the pilgrims, who were on their way to make an annual pilgrimage.
“My thoughts are with the families of the deceased,” said Modi.
Roads have become slippery in Kashmir as a result of heavy rains over the past days. Landslides have also caused traffic jams in the main highway linking Srinagar to the rest of India.
The accident comes nearly a week after unknown gunmen opened fire on another bus carrying pilgrims to the Amarnath caves. The site, visited by tens of thousands of Hindus from all over India each year, contains an ice formation which is worshipped by pilgrims as a symbol of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.
Police said another woman injured in the attack on July 10 succumbed to her injuries at hospital and died on Sunday. That brought the death toll from the incident to eight people. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet while leaders of the Muslim-majority Kashmir have also condemned it.