Wrecked remains of a truck after it lost control and plunged into a steep slope while taking a sharp turn, in the Zema area of North Sikkim on December 23 | ANI Photo

As many as 16 Indian army personnel lost their lives on December 23 in a road accident in North Sikkim involving an army truck.

According to the Indian army, the ill-fated vehicle was part of a three-vehicle convoy that was going from Chatten in the morning towards Thangu. En route at Zema, the vehicle skidded down a steep slope while negotiating a sharp turn.

The Indian army launched a rescue operation in which four injured soldiers were air evacuated, while three junior commissioned officers and 13 soldiers succumbed to the injuries sustained in the accident.

“In a tragic road accident, involving an army truck at Zema, North Sikkim, 16 Bravehearts of the Indian army have lost their lives,” an official statement said.

“The Indian army stands firm with the bereaved families in this hour of loss,” it added.

The army would pay tributes to the deceased personnel on December 24 at Bagdogra airport in West Bengal.

“The mortal remains wreath laying will be done at Bagdogra airport, technical area, between 12.30-1400 hours,” the spokesperson said.

President Droupadi Murmu and prime minister Narendra Modi led the nation in condoling the death of the army personnel.

“Anguished to learn about the loss of lives of brave soldiers of the Indian army in a road accident in Sikkim. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured,” Murmu tweeted.

Prime minister Modi in a tweet said: “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,” Modi said.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh said he was pained by the loss of lives of the army personnel and averred that the nation was “deeply grateful” for their service and commitment.

“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,” tweeted defence minister Rajnath Singh.

Describing the incident as tragic, Union home minister Amit Shah said the injured have been provided with every possible assistance.

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