A worker operating an excavator on Batote-Kishtwar national highway apparently drowned on Friday morning when his machine fell and slid into the Chenab river.

 SSP Doda Abdul Qayoom said the worker was operating the excavator near Shiva-dul bridge 15 Km from Doda town on Batote-Kishtwar NH 244 at 3 am when the machine lost traction and slid 200 ft into the river.

The operator was  unable to escape from the machine and officials believe he drowned.

Meanwhile, police along with other  teams have launched a rescue operation to trace the operator.

“Police along with SDRF and civil administration has launched a joint search operation. As of now only a part of machine is visible and the operator who got reportedly drowned has not been located yet,” said the SSP.

“The missing operator has been identified as Rahul Sharma (25) son of Sanjay Kumar a resident of Dharmthal Chennai of District Udhampur,” he said.