ALTAF HAMEED RAO/AGENCIES

MIRPUR (AJK) - At least 18 people lost their lives when their jeep fell into a deep ravine in Neelum Valley of Azad Kashmir.

According to police and rescue officials, the incident took place in the Jagran area of Neelum Valley where a jeep carrying at least 22 people fell into a gorge. They said 18 people died and four others were critically injured in the incident.

Local people, with the help of police and rescue personnel, retrieved bodies from the damaged vehicle and shifted the injured to nearby hospitals. Because of overloading, the vehicle went out of control of the driver while negotiating a sharp turn at the steep on the link road and fell into the deep flooded seasonal nullah, a police official said quoting preliminary reports coming from the scene of occurrence.

The ill-fated jeep was washed away in the sharp currents of the nullah, said the police officer and added all the injured had been rushed to MDS Military Hospital in Chamber Town where the condition of three of them is stated to be critical.

The deceased included jeep driver Muhammad Shafi. The injured were identified as Waqar Shah, Ghulam Hiader, Kalam Din, Shoukat Hussain, Rehmat Ullah and an unidentified child. Officials of Athmuqam district administration, coupled with the rescue teams, rushed to the scene of the occurrence. Police booked the owner of the jeep, which was reportedly altered unlawfully violating the motor vehicle ordinance. Further investigation is in progress.