Sunday, June 13, 2021

international

Trains crash in Pakistan, killing at least 32, as rescuers try to free survivors


Two trains collided in southern Pakistan on Monday, killing at least 32 passengers and leaving rescuers scrambling to free survivors from the wreckage, authorities said.

The crash occurred before dawn when one express train derailed and was struck by another 65 to 69 seconds later, said a Pakistan railway spokesman, Tariq Asad. "There was no time for the [second] train to avoid the incident."

Ashraf Ali, 38, and his brother survived the crash. "It was a shock when the train started derailing, we heard a loud bang," he said. "I heard cries and screaming."

Ali and his brother sustained minor injures and managed to escape the wreckage, but many passengers are still believed to be trapped. Local rescue teams are at the scene and the Pakistani military has sent troops to help recovery and relief efforts, the armed forces' media wing said in a statement.

"This is the worst train collision since 2005," said Asad, the railway spokesman. Deadly train accidents are common in Pakistan, where the country's extensive railway system has suffered from government neglect for years.

Pakistan's federal ministry for railways ordered inquiry into accident, demanding a report be completed within 24 hours, according to a tweet.

At least 32 people had died and about 80 were injured in Monday's crash, the railways ministry said in a statement.

Between 15 and 20 people remained trapped in the wreckage of the derailed train, as authorities sought heavy machinery to aid in the rescue, Ghotki police chief Umar Tufail told the Associated Press.

Images posted to social media after the crash appeared to show one train - the Millat Express - on its side as people tended to wounded passengers lying in furrows of dirt. Officials identified the other train as the Sir Syed Express.

The Millat Express was headed from Karachi to the city of Sargodha when it derailed, fell across the track, and was struck by the Sir Syed Express, which was traveling in the opposite direction, a spokesperson for Pakistan Railways told the Dawn newspaper.

The incident had led to the derailment of more than a dozen train cars and left six to eight "completely destroyed," Abdullah told Pakistani television station Geo News, according to Dawn.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was "shocked by the horrific train accident" and was ordering a "comprehensive investigation."

Last year, 22 people died when a passenger train crashed into a bus carrying Sikh pilgrims in eastern Pakistan. In 2019, a massive train fire killed at least 73.

The country's worst rail disaster occurred in 1990, when a packed passenger train plowed into a standing freight train, killing 210 people.

Published : June 08, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Haq Nawaz Khan, Michael E. Miller