At least four persons were charred to death and 24 others received burn injuries on Friday when a bus carrying Vaishnodevi pilgrims suddenly caught fire near Katra, the base camp of the cave shrine, in the Reasi district of Jammu.
According to Additional DGP Jammu, Mukesh Singh, the bus JK14-1831 was on its way to Jammu from Katra when it caught fire after travelling about 1 km.
Two persons were charred to death on the spot and the other two succumbed in hospital. Three others injured in the incident have been referred for specialised treatment.
Mukesh Singh said initial probe does not point to use of any explosive device. The probable cause is being ascertained. A forensic science laboratory (FSL) team has been deputed on spot. Details will follow.
The passengers panicked and jumped out of the burning bus, they said, adding that the police and fire and emergency departments also rushed to the spot.
Before the flames could be doused, the bus was completely burnt. Locals reached the spot and started rescue operations.
The injured passengers were shifted to the nearest Narayana hospital of the Vaishnodevi Trust for treatment.
Preliminary reports said that the fire started from the engine area of the ill-fated bus.
Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh, in whose parliamentary constituency the area falls, responded immediately after receiving information about the mishap. “Just now spoke to Deputy Commissioner, Reasi (J&K),Ms Babila Rakhwal. 2 casualties reported, injured shifted to Naraina Hospital. All possible help, financially and otherwise, will be provided to the injured”, he tweeted.
Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha tweeted; “Extremely pained by the loss of lives in the tragic bus incident in Katra. I offer my deepest condolences to the bereaved families and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. Directed district administration to ensure best possible treatment to the injured”.