Twelve pilgrims to Char Dham, including two children and four women, were feared dead after a utility vehicle they were travelling in fell into Bhagirathi river at Helgugad in Uttarkashi district on Sunday. The vehicle was on its way to Gangotri when the accident occurred at around 5:30pm at Helgugad, 35km from Uttarkashi. All passengers were from Athali village in Bhatwari tehsil in Uttarkashi.
Devendra Patwal, district disaster management officer, said, “The vehicle fell into a 500-metre-deep gorge. The water current is very strong there. We have not been able to trace any passenger yet.”
Just two weeks ago, 24 pilgrims from Indore in Madhya Pradesh died when a private bus carrying them fell into Bhagirathi. The bus returning from Gangotri was on its way to Chinyalisaur when it fell into the river. In the wake of the accident, a set of directives issued by ADG (law and order) Ram Singh Meena said that public transport vehicles would not be allowed to run after 9pm in districts on the Char Dham route.
Police said that a special campaign to check speeding and rash driving in the hills would be conducted. At accident prone areas, the Public Works Department, NHAI and other departments concerned were asked to set up warning sign boards.