- 11 people, belonging to Faisalabad and Multan, have been rescued
- Operation underway to rescue missing tourists, mostly young students, from Lahore and Faisalabad
NEELUM: At least seven people drowned and several others reported missing after a footbridge in Neelum Valley of Azad Kashmir collapsed on Sunday.
Neelum Valley SP Mirza Zahid Hussain told media that at least 20 to 25 persons were standing on the footbridge when it crumbled. He said the missing tourists, mostly young students, were among those who were standing on the footbridge to take pictures when it collapsed.
The bridge, that could only withstand a maximum of four people, had shown relevant signs of collapsing but the tourists still thronged the bridge. The locals said that the victims were likely students of two medical colleges from Lahore and Faisalabad who were touring the valley.
According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) spokesperson, a total of six dead bodies have been recovered with 11 injured. Five injured persons were shifted to Muzaffarabad CMH through helicopter while around 12 still missing, NDMA added, assuring that the rescue operation is underway to recover the missing.
Commissioner Muzaffarabad Imtiaz Ahmed said seven tourists injured in the incident, identified as Shah Zaib, Abdul Rehman, Muhammad Zubair, Shahzad, Nadeem, Saeed and Hamad, have been recovered. Those who have been admitted to district hospital Authmaqam include Anum Matloob, Anisa Bibi, Walid and Sajid.
PAK ARMY TO RESCUE:
He further said Pakistan Army is assisting the civil administration in the rescue. A Pakistan Army’s team of SSG soldiers, doctors, paramedical staff, and divers reached the site of the incident, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
The army’s media wing said that the Army personnel shifted four bodies and 11 injured to Muzaffarabad from Shahkot via helicopter.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister (PM) Raja Farooq Haider took the notice of the incident and sought a report on it from authorities concerned.
The prime minister of Azad Kashmir ordered the setting up of a control room in Muzaffarabad and directed families of the victims to contact the centre at 0582220097.
The PM has also directed the deputy commissioner to speed up rescue efforts and to ensure that no negligence is tolerated. Later, he reached Neelum Valley from Muzaffarabad to oversee the rescue operation.
Further, PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif expressed grief over the incident.