Last picture of Life, around 25 students drowned in Neelam Valley. Life is so unpredictable, one moment you live it at peak and the very next moment it will take you down. Same happened last day, when around 25 to 28 tourists (mostly students)were taking pictures at the Kundal Shahi Bridge over the bourn of Jagiran in Neelam valley and suddenly it collapsed due to overweight, tumbling the visitors down in the stream.
According to locals, victims were likely boys and girls of a college that were touring the scenic valley and enjoying the views.
According to source, victims were students of two medical colleges from Lahore Dental College student and TIPS College Faisalabad; some were from Sahiwal and one from Multan.
On the other hand, an operation is still underway to rescue the tourists, with authorities to find 9 missing tourists. But, the awfully cold water of the stream and its strong current are hindering efforts to recover the tourists.
Mirza Zahid Hussain, the superintendent of police in Neelum Valley said,”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”.
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Commissioner Muzaffarabad Imtiaz Ahmed declares that 7 tourists injured in the incident, identified as Shah Zaib, Abdul Rehman, Muhammad Zubair, Shahzad, Nadeem, Saeed and Hamad, have been recovered.
In this regard, a control room have set up in Muzaffarabad and directed families of the victims to contact the centre at 0582220097.
There is no doubt that Neelum valley is one of the most beautiful tourist locations in the AJK, which draws every year hundreds of thousands of tourists from across the country, for the most part in the boiling summers.
However, the area is forbidden for foreign tourists due to the reason of its proximity to the heavily militarised Line of Control, the de facto border that divides the disputed Himalayan region between the nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan.
This incident should be an opening for authorities, as there is need to upgrade facilities for the increasing number of tourists in the area. It’s important to take steps both in terms of visitors’ safety and better boarding and lodging facilities. There should be proper maintenance of the roads leading to the valley and the bridges.
On the other side, visitors should also read and according to the relevant warning signs for the purpose on such bridges because most of the bridge in these areas can’t bear much load.
“What happened at Kundal Shahi today is a clarion call for us to take swift action and upgrade the facilities for the visitors to save tourism industry,” parliamentary leader Abdul Majid Khan from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in AJK assembly said.