August 1, 2021

At least 43 dead in Pakistan train crash

At least 43 people were killed and dozens injured in a derailment followed by a collision between two passenger trains on Monday morning, June 7, in southern Pakistan. Rescue workers took hours to free some of the passengers trapped in the tangle of twisted and shredded metal formed by wrecked trains, near the town of Daharki, in the remote north of Sindh province, Agence-France reported. Press (AFP) a spokesperson for Pakistan Railways. Operations to come to the aid of the victims continued overnight from Monday to Tuesday.

Pakistan Railways spokesman cited at least 33 dead, while Daharki police official Umar Tufail said at least 43 people were killed and dozens more injured. He also said he feared that the death toll would increase.

The accident occurred in a remote part of the province, on a section of railroad tracks crossing farmland. The train arriving from Karachi derailed just before dawn at around 3.30am local time – when most of the 1,200 passengers on the two trains were likely to be sleeping – near Daharki, before being struck by another train coming in the opposite direction from Rawalpindi, said a spokesperson for the state-owned Pakistan Railways. According to the Minister of Information, Fawad Chaudhry, the two accidents occurred within minutes of each other.

Off-center site

“We fell on top of each other but nothing serious, Akhtar Rajput, passenger of the derailed Millat Express, told AFP. Then another train that appeared out of nowhere hit us and it shook us much more strongly. When I came to my senses, I saw passengers lying around me, others trying to get out of the wagon. “ “I was disoriented, I was trying to understand what was happening to us when the other train hit us”, said Shahid, another passenger.

Gul Mohammad, an ambulance driver dispatched by a private foundation, contacted by phone by AFP, explained that poor communications in the area made it difficult to coordinate relief efforts. “The site is out of the way and we have difficulty organizing rescue services”, in particular to transport the appropriate equipment in order to clear at least six wagons destroyed in the accident, explained for his part the spokesperson for Pakistan Railways.

Railroad tracks dating back to 1880

The chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, General Akhtar Nawaz Satti, announced on the private ARY television channel that the army and paramilitary forces stationed at nearby bases had come to the aid of the casualties. Many villagers also came to the scene to try to help the injured, according to local media images.

The current Minister of Railways, Azam Swati, said the section of railway where the accident took place was “Really dangerous”, but added that authorities were awaiting funds from the massive China-Pakistan Economic Corridor infrastructure project to initiate the repairs. “If there are delays [pour recevoir les fonds], we will rebuild this railway with our own money ”, he said.

A police official assured that he had already alerted the authorities to the danger of these routes. According to the Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, former Minister of Railways, the tracks on which the accident occurred, which he described as “Mess”, dated from 1880.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said to himself ” shocked “ and promised a full investigation. “I order a full investigation into railway safety breaches”, he assured Monday on his official Twitter account.

Railway accidents are common in Pakistan, which inherited thousands of miles of track and trains from colonial times under the British Empire. In October 2019, at least seventy-five people were killed in a fire on their train, which was traveling from Karachi to Rawalpindi. In 2016, two convoys carrying hundreds of passengers collided in Karachi, killing 21 people.

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The World with AFP