New Delhi, 23 December: About 15 km from Lachen in North Sikkim. An army truck, carrying 20 soldiers, fell into a gorge at around eight o’clock on Friday morning in distant Jemaa. In this accident, 16 soldiers were martyred and 4 are injured.

In a statement issued by the army, it was told that the accident happened when the army vehicle skidded at a sharp turn and fell straight into the ditch. The accident vehicle was part of a convoy of three vehicles, which had moved from Chatan towards Thangu in the morning. The vehicle skidded down a steep slope at a sharp turn en route to Zema. Thereafter rescue operation was launched and 4 injured soldiers were airlifted. Three Junior Commissioned Officers and 13 soldiers succumbed to their critical injuries in the accident. The bodies of all 16 army personnel have been recovered from the crash site. Their names have not been disclosed till the news is written.

The mortal remains of the martyred jawans have been taken to Government STNM Hospital in Gangtok for post-mortem, after which they will be handed over to the Army. At present, the regiment of the four seriously injured soldiers could not be ascertained.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has expressed deep sorrow over this accident by tweeting. Deeply saddened by the loss of lives of Indian Army personnel in a road accident in North Sikkim, he said. The nation is deeply grateful for its service and commitment. My condolences to the bereaved families. Praying for the speedy recovery of those who have been injured.