6 of a family die as vehicle plunges into Neelum River

Published July 3, 2021
Locals gather at the scene to help pull a vehicle from the river. — Photo by author
Locals gather at the scene to help pull a vehicle from the river. — Photo by author

At least six members of a family died on Saturday and two children were injured after their vehicle plunged into the Neelum River in Azad Jammu and Kashmir's Neelum Valley, officials said.

The group of eight — all of whom belonged to Narowal — was heading towards the upper belt of the picturesque valley. However, shortly ahead of Jura Bandi village, some 65 kilometres northeast of Muzaffarabad, they met with an accident, said Akhtar Ayub, the district disaster management officer.

Ayub said that the area where the vehicle fell into the river was not in a bad enough condition to have caused such an accident. He quoted an eyewitness as saying that one of the tyres burst which led to the driver losing control of the vehicle, causing it to fall into the river.

He said that the two children were ejected from the car as soon it veered off course.

Ayub said the locals immediately rushed the injured children to a nearby military run health facility in critical condition. However, the others couldn’t survive because of their injuries and the icy water, he added.

Rescuers pulled the vehicle from the river and discovered four bodies. They were identified as Nadir Kamran, his brother Azam Rizwan, wife Madiha Noor and mother Parveen Akhtar.

Rizwan’s wife Ayesha and Kamran’s three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Anaya were still missing and, according to local officials, they were presumed dead.

The bodies and injured children were later shifted to Combined Military Hospital Muzaffarabad in the evening.

Speaking to Dawn, Kamran's brother-in-law Azeem Sabir said that Kamran had a private job in Gawalmandi, Lahore while his family lived in Narowal. He confirmed that there were five adults and three children in the vehicle.

"These people went to Faisalabad last night where they picked up Rizwan's wife from her parent’s house and embarked on a tour of Kashmir. At around 10am today, they called us and said they were in Neelum Valley. They said they might not be able to keep in touch due to mobile network issues," Sabir said, the emotion evident in his voice.

He said that at the time he didn’t know that he won't be able to see them again.

Ayub said a crane had pulled the wreckage of the vehicle from the river shortly before sunset but no more bodies were found. According to him, volunteers had also searched for the remaining bodies along the riverbank, but to no avail.

“We have asked officials stationed at Nausari Dam to keep an eye out in this regard," he said.

Expressing grief over the incident, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider urged tourists to make sure their vehicles were in good condition before embarking on a trip.

“In the wake of today's tragic accident in Neelum, I again urge all tourists not to leave for a trip before getting your vehicles fully examined. And when you are at the wheel in hilly areas, please focus on the track rather than the environment because your lives are far precious than everything else,” he said.

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