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16 Hindu pilgrims die in bus accident in Jammu-Kashmir

16 HINDU PILGRIMS DIE IN BUS ACCIDENT IN JAMMU-KASHMIR

Sixteen Hindu pilgrims were killed and dozens of them injured when their bus fell into a ravine in Jammu and Kashmir, according to police.

At least 16 Hindu pilgrims died when their bus plunged into a gorge in India's northern Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, police said.

Nineteen more devotees were injured in the incident, in which the bus skidded off a mountain highway and fell into the deep gorge in the Ramban area.

The injured were being airlifted for treatment, state police said on Twitter. Of those injured, 11 were in serious condition, while eight had sustained minor injuries.

The pilgrims were on the way to the Amarnath cave shrine, dedicated to the god Shiva, which is located at a height of 3,888 metres in the Himalayas.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear. Local media reports said incessant monsoons rains during the past few days had made the roads in the region slippery and hazardous.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered consolation, tweeting: "I pray that those injured in the bus accident in J&K recover soon."

The bus accident comes a week after a militant attack on a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims in the state left eight devotees dead.

India's high rate of fatal traffic accidents is mostly blamed on poorly maintained roads and vehicles or negligent driving.

An average of 135,000 people die on the country's roads each year, according to government data.

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