KARACHI: At least 20 people were killed and more than 50 injured when two passenger trains collided Thursday morning near Karachi’s Landhi Railway Station, hospital officials said.
Witnesses described watching in horror as Zakaria Express from Multan rammed into Fareed Express from Lahore, which was parked there, with the roar of the crash swiftly followed by the screams of people trapped inside.
Railway officials gave green signal to the train coming from behind by mistake, and it went on to hit the train at rest, said Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister on Labour Senator Saeed Ghani.
‘There were up to 1,000 passengers in both trains,’ Divisional Superintendent (DS) Railway Nasir Nazeer said. Administration officials at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) said 19 bodies were brought to the hospital’s mortuary.
At least four carriages from the trains overturned due to the collision. TV footage showed the trains had suffered heavy damage.
Rescue services have pulled out all trapped passengers after cutting through the mangled wreckage. The injured were shifted to nearby hospitals.Pakistan army jawans also reached the spot and helped in rescue and relief operation.
The train operation came to a complete halt after the accident.
‘There were clouds of dust and smog. After that we heard screams. People inside the collided trains were screaming and crying.’ Onlookers rushed to their aid, an eye witness said, adding that he had helped pull 17 people, including women and children, from the wreckage.
Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique said in a tweet he was in touch with DS Railway who is supervising the emergency activities. He said an ‘independent inquiry’ will be held to hold accountable those responsible for the incident.
The collision occurred as Zakaria Express struck Fareed Express, which was stationary, from behind between Juma Goth and Landhi Railway Station, Divisional Superintendent Railway Nasir Nazeer told media.
Nazeer said no reason can be stated as yet for the collision, adding that his ‘first priority is rescue’.
Faisal Edhi of the Edhi Foundation had earlier confirmed the deaths of 12 people.
Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique has ordered an inquiry into the incident. He also announced Rs 1,000,000 as compensation for the dead and Rs 500,000 for the injured.
Talking to media in Islamabad, Railways Minister Saad Rafiq said apparently driver and assistant drivers were responsible for the accident as they ignored two signals. He said they are on the run but would be arrested.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah expressed grief over the accident and offered their condolences to the families of the victims. INP