At least 17 passengers were killed and 16 more were injured when a mini bus skidded off the road and into the turbulent Chenab river near Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, a senior police officer said.

The bus was washed away and exact number of passengers travelling in it at the time of mishap was not yet known.

Police said that the mishap occurred at Thakrie, about 20 kms from the district headquarter of Kishtwar. This is the third fatal accident near Kishtwar during the past few days.

Exgratia of Rs 5 lakh for killed and Rs 50,000 to each injured has been announced.

The bus was carrying over 30 passengers, he said, adding that the rescue operation was launched immediately after the accident.

Kishtwar Deputy Commissioner Angrez Singh Rana said the district administration was making efforts to airlift eight critically-injured passengers to Jammu.

“The next of the kin of the deceased will be given an ex gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh each, while Rs 50,000 will be given to each of the injured persons,” Rana said.

This is the third major accident in Kishtwar district in the last one month.

While 13 Machail Yatra devotees were killed when their cab plunged into a gorge on August 21, seven persons were killed and 12 others injured when two vehicles were hit by boulders a day earlier.

(With agency inputs)