At least 12 people, including at least nine Chinese nationals and two Pakistani soldiers, have died after the bus they were travelling in plunged into a ravine in a remote region of northern Pakistan, officials said.
“According to preliminary reports, nine Chinese nationals and three Pakistanis lost their lives. Chinese workers and accompanying Pakistani staff were proceeding to their work place for an ongoing project,” said the statement.
“The local authorities are providing all possible assistance to the injured.”
A senior administrative officer of the Hazara region told Reuters news agency the bus was carrying over 30 Chinese engineers to the site of the Dasu dam in Upper Kohistan.
China calls for probe
China has condemned the blast and asked Pakistan to thoroughly investigate the attack, the Chinese foreign ministry said.
Beijing asked Pakistan to protect the safety of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular news briefing on Wednesday.
In its statement, the Pakistani foreign ministry said it “is closely in contact with the Chinese Embassy for coordination and facilitation”.
“Pakistan and China are close friends and iron-brothers,” said the statement.
“Pakistan attaches great importance to safety and security of Chinese nationals, projects and institutions in Pakistan.”
The Dasu hydroelectric project is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $65bn investment plan under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative that is aimed at connecting western China to the Gwadar sea port in southern Pakistan.
Chinese engineers along with Pakistani construction workers have been working on the Dasu hydroelectric and other projects for several years in the region where the blast took place.