PEOPLE gather around the wreckage of the van after it fell into a ravine in Qila Saifullah district on Wednesday.—AFP
PEOPLE gather around the wreckage of the van after it fell into a ravine in Qila Saifullah district on Wednesday.—AFP

QUETTA: At least 22 people were killed, including nine members of a family, when a passenger van fell into a ravine near Qila Saifullah district of northern Balochistan, officials said on Wednesday.

The van, carrying 23 passengers and en route to Zhob from Loralai, fell into the 200-foot-deep ravine when it reached the Akhtarzai area.

The lone survivor — a 13-year-old boy — was taken to hospital in a critical condition, said Hafiz Muhammad Qasim Kakar, the deputy commissioner of Qila Saifullah.

“The driver was speeding and broke through a protective wall at a bend in the road, falling hundreds of feet into the ravine,” Mr Kakar said. As a result, 12 passengers died on the spot, whereas another 10 later succumbed to injuries.

“We have received 22 bodies and one injured in the district hospital,” a senior doctor told Dawn.

Mr Kakar told Dawn all the victims belonged to Loralai and included 12 men, five women and five children. An infant was also among the victims.

A devastated Javed Ahmed Khan Gandapur, who lost nine members of his family in the accident, told Dawn over the phone the victims included his sons, daughters, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

“They were going to Dera Ismail Khan. I waved them goodbye at the bus but didn’t know that this was their last journey,” 60-year-old Mr Gandapur, who belongs to DI Khan and has been running a hairdressing salon in Loralai for more than 35 years, said before bursting into tears. “Nothing is left for me here in Loralai.”

The victims also included a 59-year-old police inspector, Muhammad Sadiq, who was going to Zhob to appear before a court in a case. His body would be sent to Chakwal for burial.

Pakistan has an appalling record of fatal road and rail accidents, as traffic rules are rarely followed and roads in many rural areas are poor.

President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed sorrow over the accident and ordered authorities to make arrangements to deliver the bodies of passengers to their families.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2022

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