GHOTKI/ DEHRKI: (Web Desk/Nadeem ali Dayo) Two express trains collided on Monday in Ghotki Sindh and killed over 51 passengers, while more than 156 others have been injured, said police and rescue officials.
The Millat Express derailed and the Sir Syed Express train hit it soon afterwards, railways officials confirmed, saying that the collision took place between the Raiti and Obaro railway stations.
A rescue operation is under way at the site of crash and the injured are being shifted to hospitals.
Ghotki SSP Umar Tufail confirmed the death toll and told the deceased have been transported to surrounding hospitals.
He said he expected the toll to shoot up as there were still mangled train compartments that rescuers had not been able to access despite the passage of hours since the accident in Ghotki.
He said there were up to 25 people in one compartment yet to be accessed.
The accident occurred after the coaches of one train, the Millat Express, derailed and fell across the opposite track, where they were hit by another train, the Sir Syed Express, a spokesperson for Pakistan Railways had said in a statement.
Eight bogies of Millat Express and three bogies, including the engine, of Sir Syed Express derailed.
A rescue operation was launched some hours after the accident was reported. The injured and deceased were shifted to hospitals in Sadiqabad, Daharki and Mirpur Mathelo.
Sources confirmed that four railway employees are among those killed in the train accident.
Sources said that several passengers are still feared to be trapped in the train for which heavy machinery has been called.
According to local officials, the rescue operation was hampered at night because of the dark night and the arrival of heavy machinery was delayed due to difficult routes.
The Ghotki SSP said that a medical relief camp has been set up at the accident site and medical aid is being provided to the injured.
In an update on the rescue operation after the Ghotki train crash, ISPR said a relief camp has been established at the incident site.
“Cooked meals [are] being provided to victims of [the] train incident. Army doctors and paramedics are providing first aid and necessary emergency medical care,” the statement read.
As of 9:40am, according to a statement issued by the ISPR, relief and rescue efforts are underway at the incident site.
Army and Rangers troops are assisting in the relief and rescue operation.
A military doctor and paramedics, along with ambulances, moved from Pannu Aqil has also reached incident site, the ISPR statement read.
It said that engineer resources have been moved to carry out necessary relief and rescue work. The army’s special engineer team Urban Search and Rescue is being heli-lifted from Rawalpindi to the crash site to speed up relief and rescue efforts.
Two helicopters are being flown from Multan for casualties evacuation and speedy relief measures, the ISPR said, adding that relief goods are being prepared and will be despatched shortly.
Most of the injured have been evacuated to hospitals of Rahim Yar Khan, Ghotki and Mirpur Mathelo. Seriously injured people are being evacuated to Pano Aqil through helicopter, ISPR said.
The DS railways said that the drivers and crew of both trains are safe.
Meanwhile, Ghotki Deputy Commissioner Usman Abdullah told 13 to 14 bogies derailed in the accident and eight bogies had been severely damaged.
He said many people are still trapped in the bogies. He said hand cutters were used to pick out the bodies from inside the trains as heavy machinery did not reach in time.
Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed shock at the loss of lives from the Ghotki train accident and ordered a “comprehensive investigation” into it.
Taking to Twitter, the prime minister instructed Railways Minister Azam Swati to arrive at the site and help the injured with provision of medical assistance.
“Shocked by the horrific train accident at Ghotki early this morning leaving 30 passengers dead. Have asked Railway Minister to reach the site and ensure medical assistance to the injured and support for families of the dead. Ordering a comprehensive investigation into railway safety fault lines,” he tweeted.
The railway authorities have formed an investigation committee, being headed by a 21 grade officer to probe the crash.
They have also announced Rs1.5 million each for the heirs of those killed in the accident.
Depending on the nature of their injuries, victims of the crash will be given a minimum of Rs100,000 and a maximum of Rs300,000.
According to the railways spokesperson, a relief train has been diverted from Rohri to the accident site. Railways and local police and local administration are present on the spot for relief work, while help centres have been set up in Karachi, Sukkur, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi.
Two information centres have been set up in the Karachi division for information about the accident, a spokesperson for the Pakistan Railways said.
One has been set up at the Cantt Station in Karachi and one in Hyderabad.
The Karachi one can be contacted on 0331-2716334 and 0300-3754200, while you can contact the Hyderabad centre on 022-9200483, 022-9200258, 022-9200678 and 022-9200674.
The Khairpur deputy commissioner has issued a helpline number which passengers can call on. The number is 0332-5895316.
The spokesperson said that most of the injured have been discharged after first aid, while trains will be diverted to their destination as soon as the track is restored. Passengers of Sir Syed Express have been diverted to the Sadiqabad railway station.