RAWALPINDI - At least 13 passengers were killed and 33 others injured when a passenger bus plunged into a ditch due to overspeeding near Bahtar Interchange on the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway here yesterday, police said.

Rescue 1122 conducted rescue operation by transporting the dead and the injured to nearby hospitals.

“The tragic incident took place because of negligence of driver as he was talking to someone on mobile phone while overtaking a Mazda truck on motorway during rain,” said a senior police officer. The driver and conductor of bus were arrested by police and a case was registered against them on complaint of a passenger.

According to police, a passenger bus bearing registration number LES-149 with 49 passengers on board was going to Lahore from Swat when the driver of the bus tried to overtake a mazda truck while talking to someone on mobile phone. Police added that bus first collided with a divider and then with a tree alongside the road because the driver lost his control over steering. “The road was also slippery because of rain,” police added. Resultantly, 13 passengers were killed and 33 others sustained critical injuries, police said. Superintendent of Police (SP) Syed Ali, when contacted, confirmed that the incident took place because of negligence of driver who along with conductor was arrested by police, besides filing a case against them. He said driver was using mobile phone while driving when he smashed bus with a mediator and lost control over steering. Further investigation was on, SP said.

A spokesman of Rescue 1122 told media that rescuers shifted 13 dead bodies and 33 injured to Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Taxila, Wah General Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital Rawalpindi.