By Atiya Riffat
Neelum Valley SP Mirza Zahid Hussain told media that at least 20 to 25 persons were standing on the footbridge when it crumbled. He said the missing tourists, mostly young students, were among those who were standing on the footbridge to take pictures when it collapsed.
At least seven people drowned and several others reported missing after a footbridge in Neelum Valley of Azad Kashmir collapsed.
The bridge that could only withstand a maximum of four people, had shown relevant signs of collapsing but the tourists still thronged the bridge. The locals said that the victims were likely students of two medical colleges from Lahore and Faisalabad who were touring the valley.
He further said Pakistan Army is assisting the civil administration in the rescue. A Pakistan Army’s team of SSG soldiers, doctors, paramedical staff, and divers reached the site of the incident, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
The army’s media wing said that the Army personnel shifted four bodies and 11 injured to Muzaffarabad from Shahkot via helicopter.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister (PM) Raja Farooq Haider took the notice of the incident and sought a report on it from authorities concerned.
The prime minister of Azad Kashmir ordered the setting up of a control room in Muzaffarabad and directed families of the victims to contact the centre.
The PM has also directed the deputy commissioner to speed up rescue efforts and to ensure that no negligence is tolerated. Later, he reached Neelum Valley from Muzaffarabad to oversee the rescue operation.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has expressed his grief over the loss of precious human lives of tourists due to the incident that took place in Neelum Valley. While extending his sympathies to the families of those who were affected in this horrible incident, CM prayed that may Allah Almighty bless the departed souls with eternal peace and give patience to their families to bear this loss with fortitude.