NEW DELHI – At least 16 pilgrims were killed and 27 others injured Sunday when their bus, headed to the Amarnath Cave, fell into a gorge in Ramban district of the northern Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir.
The accident took place around 2:20 pm local time, and 19 of those hurt have been transferred to Jammu by chopper for treatment, Ramban Police Control Room official Javed Ahmad told EFE.
The remaining eight, who had less serious injuries, are being treated at district hospitals.
While the exact reasons for the accident remain unknown, an initial hypothesis suggests the crash may have been caused by brake failure, the source added.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was extremely pained by the loss of lives, and expressed his condolences to families of the victims on Twitter, while wishing for speedy recovery of those wounded.
The accident comes less than a week after another group of pilgrims headed to the Hindu shrine of Amarnath was caught in a clash between police and insurgents, in an attack that was condemned by all political parties, including Kashmiri separatist groups.
The Amarnath Cave is a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus who believe it was here that Lord Shiva revealed the secret of immortality to wife Parvati.
The legend gave birth to the idea that those who travel to the cave will obtain moksha (release from the cycle of rebirth) or immortality.