YARKHUN: In the Yarkhun accident, while the bodies of five of the nine people who died after a taxi vehicle fell into the river early on May 30 are still missing, it has emerged that there were initially three survivors but one of them drowned during a rescue operation by local people.
The taxi land cruiser carrying 11 people from Chitral town to upper Yarkhun fell into the river while crossing a bridge in front of Unauch village at about 1am on May 30.
One dead body was recovered in front of Pavur village about four hours after the accident.
The bodies of three other victims were recovered by Rescue 1122 from the wreckage of the land cruiser late in the afternoon. The missing bodies include those of two women and a former district council member, Israr Ahmed.
Requesting anonymity, a local resident told ChitralToday that the taxi jeep was carrying 10 passengers and also bringing goods for a shop in Unauch and was overloaded. The driver had placed 10 bags of cement on the backseat and there were luggage of the passengers packed on the rooftop of the 14-seat land cruiser.
At about midnight, the shopkeeper in Unauch received a call from the taxi driver. The driver informed him that he was about to reach Unauch and would drop the goods at his shop by crossing the bridge in front of the village.
As the shopkeeper left his house towards his shop located on the road in the village, the land cruiser reached the opposite bank of the river and then entered the bridge. But suddenly the light of the vehicle went off and there was a big noise; the vehicle had fallen off the bridge, he said.
The shopkeeper immediately informed his fellow villagers about the accident who reached the spot and after about two hours managed to extend a rope to the three men who were calling for help from atop the vehicle’s wreckage.
An eyewitness, who also wanted not to be named, told ChitralToday that one of the survivors, belonging to Lon village in Mulkhow easily crossed over to safety using the rope and the second man, from Pakpatan Punjab, also succeeded to save his life but with great difficulty.
The third man, unfortunately, fell down into the river as he could not maintain holding on to the rope and move to the bank, and was swept away.
He said according to the two survivors, they were sitting in the rear side on the second last row of seats and managed to crawl out of the entangled vehicle as its windscreen got broken, and clung to the wreckage.
The man who drowned while being rescued came out of the vehicle’s damaged body much later and was too exhausted, they said.
The locals quoted the two survivors as saying that the vehicle fell into the river after the bridge started swinging. They also felt that the bridge was tilted towards the south causing the vehicle to lose its balance.
As a result, first the luggage loaded on the rooftop tilted towards the south and then it plunged into the river along with the vehicle.