At least six people drowned in Neelum Valley of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on Sunday after a footbridge collapsed over a water channel, Dawn reported. At least six people are still missing, while eight others have been rescued.
A group of tourists, mostly students from Lahore, Sahiwal, Multan and Faisalabad, were visiting Neelum Valley, located close to the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. The group was standing on a footbridge over Jagran Nullah in the valley when it collapsed.
“Though we are yet to confirm an exact figure, it is believed that between 20 to 25 persons were standing on the footbridge when it crumbled,” superintendent of police, Neelum Valley, Mirza Zahid Hussain, told Dawn. “The violent current immediately swept away the victims; so far, six bodies have been recovered.”
The police officer said the figures could change as teams were still collecting details of all the tourists.
The tourists had ignored the warning on a signboard regarding the maximum loading capacity on the footbridge, Deputy Commissioner Raja Mahmmood Shahid said, according to Greater Kashmir.
Pakistan Peoples Party leader Raja Mubasher Ejaz, who was among those present when the bridge collapsed, said a group of 40 tourists followed the 20 to 25 students who were already standing on the bridge. “I saw them prancing around, clapping, whistling and taking selfies, and all of a sudden the pillar-less bridge started to shake and crumbled from the left side,” he told the Greater Kashmir.
The Pakistan Army said it had launched rescue and relief efforts. Army troops along with doctors and paramedics were present at the spot, said Pakistan military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations.