Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

Dozens die as trains collide

Pakistan wakes up to horrific news of at least 40 people dying after a train barrels into another in Sindh

- Agencies

DAHARKI, PAKISTAN: At least 40 people were killed and dozens injured on Monday when a packed Pakistani inter-city train ploughed into another express that had derailed just minutes earlier, according to an AFP report.

Several people were still trapped in the mangled wreckage near Daharki, in a remote part of rural Sindh province, which took rescue workers with specialist equipment hours to reach.

At least 50 people have lost their lives and 70 others sustained injuries, according to an ARY News report quoting Ghotki deputy commission­er Usman Abdullah, the Press Trust of India reported.

The double accident happened around 3.30am when most of the 1,200 passengers aboard the two trains would have been dozing.

“We tumbled upon each other, but that was not so fatal,” Akhtar Rajput, a passenger on the train that derailed, told AFP. “Then another train hit us from nowhere, and that hit us harder. When I regained my senses, I saw passengers lying around me, some were trying to get out of the coach.”

The Millat Express was heading from Karachi to Sargodha when it derailed, spilling carriages onto the track carrying the Sir Syed Express from Rawalpindi in the opposite direction.

Informatio­n minister Fawad Chaudhry said the incidents were just minutes apart.

“I was disoriente­d and trying to figure out what happened to us when the other train hit,” Shahid, another passenger, told AFP.

‘Bodies trapped inside’

Senior Daharki police officer Umar Tufail said 40 people were killed and dozens injured. “One coach is under the engine, and we can see three bodies trapped inside,” he told AFP.

“Two other bodies have been reported elsewhere too, so we fear that the death toll will rise,” Tufail added.

A clip aired on a local channel showed medics giving an intravenou­s drip to a conscious passenger whose lower torso was trapped between crushed carriage benches.

Local farmers and villagers were the first at the site, with huge crowds gathering around the carnage of several overturned Pakistan Railways carriages - some clambering on top in an attempt to reach survivors.

The dead were laid out in rows on train seat benches and covered in traditiona­l scarves. According to officials, over 1,000 passengers were on board the two trains.

Army engineers and specialist teams were set to be airlifted from Rawalpindi and taken to the spot to aid the efforts.

Built in 1880s?

The accident happened on a raised section of track surrounded by lush farmlands. Interior minister Sheikh Rashid, a former railways minister, said the track where the accident occurred was built in the 1880s and described it as “a shambles”.

A senior police official said he had already warned authoritie­s about the “dangerous condition” of the tracks and carriages.

The Pakistan army and paramilita­ry rangers from nearby bases were at the site to help.

PM Khan ‘shocked’

Reacting to the tragedy, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted, “Shocked by the horrific train accident at Ghotki early this morning... Have asked the railway minister to reach the site and ensure medical assistance to the injured and support for families of the dead. Ordering comprehens­ive investigat­ion into railway safety fault lines.”

Gul Mohammad, who works with the Edhi Foundation ambulance service which was helping move dead bodies away from the site, said communicat­ion problems were hindering the coordinati­on of the rescue efforts.

“I am talking to you as I stand on the rooftop of my ambulance for better signal,” he told AFP.

Rail accidents are common in Pakistan, which inherited thousands of kilometres of track and trains from former colonial power Britain.

But the network has seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagem­ent and lack of investment.

More than 300 people were killed and 700 injured in 1990 when an overloaded 16-carriage inter-city train crashed into a stationary freight train near the city of Sukkur in Sindh.

More recently, at least 75 people died when a train caught fire while travelling from Karachi to Rawalpindi in October 2019.

 ?? AFP ?? Security personnel and onlookers stand at the site of a train accident in Daharki area of Pakistan’s northern Sindh province on Monday.
AFP Security personnel and onlookers stand at the site of a train accident in Daharki area of Pakistan’s northern Sindh province on Monday.

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