At least 17 people are presumed to have died after a passenger van plunged into the Indus river in Kohistan on Monday, police said.
Dasu-Kohistan Control Room officials said the van, carrying 16 passengers from the same family including women and children, was en route to Rawalpindi from Chilas when the accident occurred. The van was privately hired by the family for the visit.
According to Kohistan police, the van, with 17 people aboard including the driver, fell into the river near the Paniba area.
Initially, the body of a woman was found lying on the bank of the river, prompting locals and rescue officials to start an operation to locate the other passengers and the van.
Although the van was retrieved and rescuers managed to pull it to the river bank, none of the other passengers could be found.
Police said rescue teams were still trying to locate the missing passengers; however, they are believed to have died as the flow of the river is currently high and the chances of survival are minimal.
In a statement, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid expressed deep sorrow over the incident and directed the Diamer administration and GB Home Department to mobilise all resources in search of the victims.
Just a week ago, at least nine people had drowned when a jeep plunged into the Yarkhoon River after hitting the safety railing of a suspension bridge. The accident had occurred in Unawuj village of Yarkhoon valley.
The vehicle was heading to the valley from Chitral city with 11 people on board, including the driver, with its roof also packed with heavy load.