11 killed as vehicle falls into gorge near Rohtang Pass

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Manali : All 11 persons, including five women and three children, belonging to two families travelling in a vehicle were killed when it skidded off the road and fell into a gorge near Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh's Kullu district, police said on Thursday.

The accident occurred near Rahni Nullah on the Manali-Leh highway, 47 km from Manali. The victims were on their way towards Pangi in Chamba district from Manali when the accident occurred.

Poor visibility owing to rain was believed to be the cause of the accident, Superintendent of Police Shalini Agnihotri told IANS over phone.

She said the accident occurred on Wednesday night but the police came to know about it only on Thursday morning.

Agnihotri advised the motorists to avoid travelling to higher reaches, including Rohtang Pass, at night owing to prevailing foggy weather.

Witnesses said the administration had a tough time in extracting the victims from the gorge. The villagers started the rescue operations before the authorities could reach the spot.

Governor Acharya Devvrat and Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed grief over the deaths.

An official statement quoting the Chief Minister said as he came to know about the accident, he directed authorities to carry out relief and rescue operations immediately.