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17 Hindu pilgrims die as bus plunges into Kashmir gorge

By
Ed Adamczyk
A man is hospitalized on Sunday in Jammu, India. He was aboard a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims to the Amaranth shrine in Kashmir when the bus plunged 100 feet into a gorge. Photo by Jaipal Singh/EPA
A man is hospitalized on Sunday in Jammu, India. He was aboard a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims to the Amaranth shrine in Kashmir when the bus plunged 100 feet into a gorge. Photo by Jaipal Singh/EPA

July 17 (UPI) -- At least 17 people died when a bus traveling to a Hindu shrine in Indian-administered Kashmir fell into a gorge, police said.

The accident occurred Sunday on the mountainous Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the Indian Home Ministry announced. Twenty-nine people were hurt.

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The bus left the road as it rounded a curve and fell 100 feet onto boulders in a river near Banibal, a town 50 miles southeast of Srinagar. The bus was transporting pilgrims to the Hindu shrine at Amaranth cave, which houses an ice stalagmite structure symbolizing the mythical powers of Lord Shiva.

The state transit corporation, owners of the bus, ordered an investigation into the cause of the accident.

Security forces lined roads across Kashmir after another incident last week involving Hindu pilgrims -- a bus returning from the shrine was caught in crossfire between a militant rebel group and Indian security forces. Eight people aboard the bus died.

More than 100,000 people participate in the pilgrimage every summer, traveling to the shrine located 12,756 feet above sea level. The pilgrimage season ends Aug. 7.

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