11 killed in Darchula jeep accident after driver drives through a restricted cliff
March 3, 2019 08:42 AM NPT
PUSHPARAJ JOSHI andPREM CHUNARA
KAILALI/DARCHULA, March 3: People who have been to Ratakatha of Duhu Rural Municipality often get goosebumps when they hear this name. Usually, vehicles do not ply through this cliff, which lies 7 km north from Khalanga, district headquarters of Darchula. It falls along the Darchula-Tinker road section.
Passengers going to Duhu from Khalanga have to change two vehicles on the way. After reaching to Ratakatha cliff, passengers have to walk for a while to get across the cliff and then take another vehicle. Only small vehicles are allowed to ply in Ratakatha area. It is real trouble for the drivers to reverse the vehicle in Ratakatha where only one vehicle can move at a time.
There is a police presence on both sides of the cliff. Ambulance and emergency vehicles are supposed to seek permission from the police before crossing the cliff. However, police are not present at the end of the cliff sides during nighttime.
In their absence, a jeep (Ma 1 Ja 280) drove through the cliff along with its passengers on Friday evening killing 11 passengers aboard after it skidded off the road at around 8 pm.
According to police, the jeep fell around 300 meters down on the bank of the Mahakali River. It is speculated that the vehicle might have skidded off the road while trying to climb up the cliff.
“The place from where the vehicle fell has inclined slope and it is very hard for vehicles to drive on it. So it seems like the jeep was not able to overcome the slope and reversed back falling off the cliff,” said Police Inspector Rabindra Kathayat.
He informed Republica that the meeting of the local transport committee in 2017 had banned movement of vehicles in Ratakatha area, which is one of the riskiest areas in the district.
Dead bodies identified
Police have ascertained the identity of the passengers who were killed in Friday’s jeep accident in Darchula. According to District Police Office (DPO), Darchula, deceased have been identified as Kalyan Singh Badal, 41, Nirmala Badal,15, of Duhu Rural Municipality-2, Parulidevi Dhami,38, Ammara Bam,55, Ayusha Bam, 7 of Duhu-4, Dhan Bahadur Bam,24, Dhanadevi Bam,71, Manmatti Bhatta,35 of Duhu-1. Similarly, Pratap Bahadur Chand, 60 and Sneha Bam, 22 of Kedar Rural Municipality-2 were also killed in the fatal mishap.
Deepak Dhami, the driver of the jeep who was critically injured in the accident has been taken to India for further treatment. Armed Police, Nepal Police, and Nepal Army among others rescued the body and rushed to District Hospital for a postmortem on Saturday. Rabindra Kathayat, Chief Inspector of Darchula stated that Police is still investigating the cause of the accident.