Two express trains collided in southern Pakistan early Monday, killing at least 35 passengers, authorities said, as rescuers and villagers worked to remove injured people and more bodies from the wreckage.
Between 15 and 20 passengers remain trapped in the wreckage of the Millat Express train and authorities were trying to organize heavy machinery to rescue people crying out for help, said Umar Tufail, chief of police in Ghotki district in Sindh province. , where the collision occurred before dawn.
The Millat Express derailed and the Sir Syed Express train hit it shortly after, said Usman Abdullah, deputy commissioner in Ghotki. It was not immediately clear what caused the derailment and subsequent collision.
“Right now, the challenge for us is to quickly rescue the passengers who are still trapped in the rubble,” he said.
Railways minister Azam Swati told The Associated Press that so far 35 people had been killed and dozens more injured. “I am on my way to the Ghotki district where the tragic train accident occurred today,” he said. Swati said engineers and experts were trying to determine what caused the collision.
He said that all aspects will be examined, including the possibility of sabotage. “We are not sure of the cause of the train accident at this time,” he said.
According to railway officials, around 1,100 passengers were on board the two trains and arrangements were being made to help the survivors.
According to a military statement, the troops were also participating in relief and rescue at the site. He said that military doctors and ambulances were also dispatched from a nearby city and that a team of military engineers was sent to Ghotki by helicopter.
According to local media, some of the passengers were traveling on the Millat Express train to attend a wedding party, but it was unclear if they were among those killed or injured.
Television images showed ambulances transporting injured passengers to hospitals. According to Pakistani television stations, the heavy machinery had not arrived at the scene about four hours after the accident.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan expressed his deep regret over the tragedy. Imran Khan said on Twitter that he had asked the railway minister to supervise the rescue work and also ordered that the accident be investigated.
Pakistani rail officials said they had ordered an investigation and rescue work was still in progress. Aijaz Ahmed, the conductor of the train that collided with the derailed train, told Pakistan’s Geo News TV that upon seeing the derailed carriages, he did his best to avoid the accident by braking, but he failed. He did not explain how he survived.
Authorities said at least 50 passengers had been transported to the hospital, where some of the passengers were in critical condition. Malik Aslam, a local villager, told Pakistan’s Geo News TV that around 100 people were injured and he counted at least 30 passenger bodies during rescue and recovery work.
Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where successive governments have paid little attention to improving the poorly maintained signal system and outdated tracks.
In 1990, a crowded passenger crashed into a freight train in southern Pakistan, killing 210 people in the worst rail disaster in Pakistani history.