RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD - At least 13 passengers were killed and 24 others injured when two coasters coming from Murree to Rawalpindi, in a bid to overtake each other, skidded off the road and fell into a deep ravine near Valley Park, Salgaran, on Wednesday.

Rescue 1122 District Emergency Officer (DEO) Dr Abdur Rehman put the number of causalities at 13 while City Police Officer (CTO) Syed Ishtiaq Hussain Shah said that 13 to 15 people had died in the incident. It was being feared that the death toll could rise as a number of the wounded were critical according to hospital sources.

Locals and police officials rushed to the scene and started rescue operation in harsh weather conditions. Rescue 1122, City Traffic Police Rawalpindi, Capital Development Authority and Pakistan Army troops also joined in. The rescuers pulled out the injured and dead passengers by cutting the bodies of damaged coasters and shifted them to the PIMS, Poly Clinic and Holy Family Hospital (HFH) of Islamabad.

Government high-ups including Rawalpindi Commissioner Khalid Masood Chaudhry, District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sajid Zafar Dall and Islamabad Chief Commissioner also went to the site and supervised the rescue operation.

According to SSP (Operations) Mian Maqbool, who was lead the rescue operation, told The Nation that the incident took place at 7:15pm when the drivers of the two speeding coasters (LRO-1774 and LRO-6450) coming from Murree with nearly 50 passengers on board tried to overtake each other near the Valley Park. As the road was slippery because of continuous rain, both the coasters collided with each other and fell into a deep ravine, he said. The injured included men, women and children, he added.

Following the accident, the Islamabad district administration declared emergency in the three aforesaid hospitals. "As many as 20 injured passengers have been brought to PIMS and most of them are in serious condition. Doctors are trying their best to save their lives," PIMS spokesperson Dr Ayesha told the media. The PIMS administration appealed to the people for blood donation.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif taking notice of the incident directed for provision of free medical treatment to the injured. The PM and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered District Coordination Officer and City Police Officer to immediately launch the rescue operation and supervise all these efforts personally.