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Tuesday, June 25, 2024  
18 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Bus plunges off the bridge in Lasbela, kills at least 41

At least 48 passengers were travelling in Karachi-bound bus
Residents gather over a bridge to watch the wreckage of a burnt passenger bus in the Lasbela district of Balochistan on January 29, 2023. AFP
Residents gather over a bridge to watch the wreckage of a burnt passenger bus in the Lasbela district of Balochistan on January 29, 2023. AFP
Rescue officials recover bodies from the rubble after a passenger bus plunged into a ravine and caught fire in Lasbela, Balochistan in the early hours on Sunday. Screengrab
Rescue officials recover bodies from the rubble after a passenger bus plunged into a ravine and caught fire in Lasbela, Balochistan in the early hours on Sunday. Screengrab
A rescue worker clears the rubble a passenger bus plunged into a ravine and caught fire in Lasbela, Balochistan in the early hours on Sunday. Screengrab
A rescue worker clears the rubble a passenger bus plunged into a ravine and caught fire in Lasbela, Balochistan in the early hours on Sunday. Screengrab

At least 41 passengers were killed and four were injured in the wee hours of Sunday when a Karachi-bound passenger van plunged off a bridge on the highway of Bela in Lasbela, Balochistan, officials told Aaj News.

“Our and police assessments have shown that it occurred due to overspeeding. There is a sharp turn and after this, there is the bridge. So due to this, the vehicle was unable to control and toppled,” Bela Assistant Commissioner Hamza Anjum said.

The cause mentioned by Anjum has been the reason for many past accidents in Pakistan as many drivers ignore the signboards while driving at high speed. A total of 9,701 accidents occurred nationwide of which fatal accidents were 4,403 and non-fatal 5,298 in Pakistan in 2019-20, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data showed.

The 850km single track from Quetta to Karachi is notorious and often dubbed as “bloody higway (khooni shahrah)” by locals. Many people welcomed the addition of Rescue 1122 in the area amid high rate of cases.

Anjum described that drivers do “dangerous driving”, which leads to accidents.

“The accident occurred at around 2:15am,” Edhi Foundation Incharge Dr Hakim Lasi said. The rescue operation began at 3:00am and bodies were shifted to the Civil Hospital. As many as 48 passengers were on the bus.

The rescue officials came to the site of the accident after people at a nearby hotel got to know about the tragedy and dialed 1115, the number of Pakistan’s biggest ambulance service, to call them up.

Edhi, which is now led by the founder’s son Faisal Edhi, is considered the prime rescue organisation in any untoward incident in Pakistan. Faisal’s son, Saad is also taking part in the rescue operation.

Four ambulances of the Bela team of the rescue organisation reached to site half an hour after the call, followed by government officials, police, fire brigade, and Rescue 1122.

The Edhi Foundation incharge was of the view that it might take two hours to recover “more bodies” from the rubble.

When asked about any kind of delay in the response, Bela Assistant Commissioner Hamza Anjum ruled out any such impression. He explained that the bus was travelling to Karachi from Quetta and it toppled at Langra.

“No. There was not any delay as the distance is very long as it is 35 to 40kms away from the Bela city,” he said and claimed that as per their information, “the accident occurred at 3:30am and at 4:05am fire brigade and 11 ambulances had reached there.”

But, he added that the intensity of the fire and the amount of damage made it difficult for the teams to contain it.

The Edhi official agreed with the assistant commissioner as the Langra was a mountainous area and it was difficult to manage the rescue. “We reached on time.”

 At least 38 bodies have been shifted from Quetta to Karachi, rescue officials said. AFP
At least 38 bodies have been shifted from Quetta to Karachi, rescue officials said. AFP

The bus caught fire after the bus fell into a ravine in Bela, Anjum said, adding that two out of the four injured have been referred to Karachi and the rest to Quetta.

It was difficult for the government to ascertain whether minors and women were killed or not due to charred bodies. They have decided to conduct DNA tests on the bodies and contact the bus operators to know the identities of the deceased people.

A doctor’s team has reached the site for the said purpose. The Bela assistant commissioner said that samples would be sent to Karachi for “earliest possible” identification.

A Rescue 1122 centre is set up after every 10 kilometres of the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) Highway to cater to such types of accidents. The team helped in recovering the bodies from the rubble. However, Edhi’s Lasi went on to add that they were not enough as facilities were short and patients were referred to Karachi.

Anjum added that burns wards were not available in the area and the fire brigade was “immediately” sent to the site. Such cases were referred to Karachi, he said.

When asked about the safety measures and signboards, the Edhi incharge gave a blunt reply on the authority’s mismanagement. “The so-called signboards are not as they should be. This is the responsibility of the Motorway Police to ensure. This has been the cause of accidents.”

The recent death count was confirmed by Lasbela SSP Israr Ahmed Imrani. “The coach belongs to the Ulmulat Company. The accident occurred due to the negligence of the coach driver,” he said.

At least 38 bodies were shifted from Quetta to Karachi and 3 bodies were sent to Quetta by Edhi Ambulance after being identified by the family, rescue officials said, adding that they would be shifted to Edhi mortuary after medico-legal procedures.

Condolences voiced over tragic accident

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has expressed deep sorrow and grief over the loss of precious lives in a bus accident.

The premier condoled with the bereaved families and prayed for the high ranks of the departed souls. He also prayed for the early recovery of the injured.

PM Shehbaz directed the authorities concerned to provide the best medical facilities to the injured.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has also expressed deep sorrow over loss of precious lives in Lasbela bus accident.

“We stand with the bereaved families in this hour of sorrow and grief,” the interior minister said in a tweet extending heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the bereaved families.

Expressing deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious livesin the tragic accident, Chief Minister Balochistan Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo directed the District administration to provide better health facilities to the injured passengers.

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