Tourists Missing in Neelum River Tragedy Unlikely To Be Found, Officials Say

Tourists Missing in Neelum River Tragedy Unlikely To Be Found, Officials Say

Efforts to find survivors from a tragic accident in Neelum Valley of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) have ended in disappointment. Eight people remain missing, and officials have given up hope of finding anyone alive after a Toyota jeep carrying 11 tourists from Lahore and three locals, including the driver and his helper, plunged into the Neelum River while negotiating a curve near Phulawai village. The vehicle’s passengers were thrown out before it dived into the river that flows around 400 feet down the unmetalled narrow road at the accident site. 

Rescuers had found one body and five injured survivors on the steep and stony riverbank, but none of the eight missing persons have been retrieved from the Neelum River despite a day of intensive efforts by rescuers. 

“It has been almost 24 hours, and we have not been able to fish out even a single missing person. No one can survive in the fast-flowing ice-cold waters of Neelum after a few hours,” said Tahir Mahmood, the deputy commissioner (DC) Neelum. 

The deceased was identified as Ghulam Meera, 22, son of Javed Iqbal, and the injured persons were driver Abdul Latif Butt, his helper Ibrahim, 21, Moeen Ahmed, 24, son of Javed Iqbal, Hasnain, 23, son of Shahzad Ahmed, and Mohammad Fahad, 31, son of Mohammad Safdar (residents of Ichhra Lahore). The injured survivors were shifted to CMH Muzaffarabad, where their condition was stated to be out of danger. 

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Syed Imdad Ali, in-charge of the nearby Janawai police post, said that local divers tried their best to locate the missing persons throughout the day on Monday, but in vain. The missing people were identified as Umair Ahmed, 26, son of Mohammad Safdar; Bilal, son of Sheikh Maqbool; Shahnawaz, son of Sheikh Maqsood; Waleed, son of Ibrar Ahmed; Azhar Ashraf, 27, son of Mohammad Ashraf, Rahim and Raheel, all from Lahore and Ishtiaq, son of Sarfraz, from Neelum valley. 

As the railing on the hardtop of the vehicle was partially visible in the middle of the river on Monday night, there was hope that the bodies were still trapped inside. However, when divers reached the area, they found that it was just the hardtop and that the bodies, along with the vehicle’s occupants, had been swept away by the violent currents. 

A special team of six divers from Muzaffarabad has been deployed to carry on the search operation on Tuesday. The tragic incident serves as a reminder of the importance of taking all necessary precautions when traveling in hazardous areas. 

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