Mrunal Manmay Dash

Sixteen Army jawans were killed and four others injured after the vehicle they were moving skidded off the road and fell into a gorge at Lachen in North Sikkim near the India-China border on Friday.

According to a senior police officer, the injured have been airlifted to an Army hospital in North Bengal.

Sources said, the mishap took place at around 8 a.m. on Friday, about 15 kms away from Lachen, and around 130 km away from State capital Gangtok.

As per an IANS report, the Army vehicle was heading towards the border posts with 20 occupants. The vehicle seemed to have veered off the road while negotiating a curve in the Zema 3 area and crashed hundreds of feet down.

All the 16 bodies have been recovered from the crash site. The condition of the four critically injured Army personnel remains unknown, said Chungthang Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Arun Thatal, who was at the spot with a police team from Lachen.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, expressed his grief at the loss of valuable lives. Taking to Twitter, Singh wrote, "Deeply pained by the loss of lives of the Indian Army personnel due to a road accident in North Sikkim. The nation is deeply grateful for their service and commitment. My condolences to the bereaved families. Praying for the speedy recovery of those who are injured."

Following the mishap, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths. "Pained by the loss of lives of our brave army personnel due to a road mishap in Sikkim. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon," he tweeted.



(With Agency Inputs)