16 soldiers killed as bus falls into gorge | Latest News India

Sixteen Indian Army personnel, including three junior officers (JCOs), were killed when the vehicle they were traveling in fell into a gorge in North Sikkim district on Friday, the army said in a statement.

Four other soldiers who sustained serious injuries in the accident were airlifted to the army hospital in Bengdubi near Siliguri in West Bengal, the army said.

“In a tragic road accident involving an Army truck at Zema in North Sikkim on December 23, 16 brave hearts of the Indian Army lost their lives,” the army said in a statement.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said he was “deeply saddened” by the loss of life.

“The nation is very grateful for his service and commitment. My condolences to the bereaved families. Praying for the speedy recovery of those injured,” he said in a tweet.

The truck was part of a convoy of three vehicles that was on its way from Lachen to Thangu, about 15 kilometers away, officials said.

The truck left the army camp in Lachen with 16 personnel and picked up four others on the way, officials said. It was a ferry truck, and was usually carried by personnel from all regiments and companies.

The truck fell into the gorge around 9:00 a.m. while negotiating a sharp turn in the Zema area, Lt. Col. Mahendra Rawat, the defense ministry’s public relations officer, said in a statement.

“The truck was going uphill. First he fell to a road about 40 meters below and tumbled downhill. It landed on another road,” said an officer on condition of anonymity.

The vehicle broke into two pieces as a result of the collision, the officer said. “The engine and front end of the chassis with the front wheels were found on the second road while the rear part went downhill before landing in a river,” the officer added.

Lt Col Rawat said, “A rescue mission was immediately launched. Unfortunately, three commissioned officers and 13 soldiers died of injuries sustained in the accident. Four injured soldiers have been airlifted.”

“The Indian Army stands firm with the bereaved families in this hour of loss,” he said in the statement.

The bodies of the personnel will be sent to Mangan to be handed back to the army after official formalities, said Arun Thatal, Additional Superintendent of Police, Chungthang, Sikkim’s Mangan district.

President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the workers.

“Saddened to learn of the loss of lives of brave Indian Army soldiers in a road accident in Sikkim. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured,” President Murmu tweeted.

Praying for the recovery of the injured, PM Modi said, “Our brave army personnel injured in a road mishap in Sikkim. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon.”

“Shocked to learn of the tragic road accident that claimed the lives of our brave Army soldiers in Sikkim. My condolences to the bereaved families. All possible assistance has been extended to the injured, may they recover at the earliest,” Union Home Minister Amit Shah said.

Sikkim Governor Ganga Prasad and Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang (Golay) also expressed their condolences.

“The nation always appreciates from the bottom of its heart the service, commitment and dedication of the brave sons of India. I wish the injured a speedy recovery and send my condolences to the families of the departed,” the Governor said.

“My heart goes out to the grieving family, friends and relatives in this hour of grief and I pray that the departed souls may rest in eternal peace. I also pray for the speedy recovery of those injured and currently undergoing medical treatment,” the CM tweeted.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “Deeply saddened by the unfortunate road accident in North Sikkim, claiming the lives of 16 brave hearts of the Indian Army. Heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. May God give strength to bear the irreparable loss. Speedy recovery to the injured. praying.”

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