Death toll rises to 63 in Pakistan train collision

Death toll rises to 63 in Pakistan train collision

The collision took place in Ghotki when an express train barrelled into another that had derailed minutes earlier on June 7.

Death toll from the horrific collision of two trains in southern Pakistan rose to 63 on June 8 after rescuers pulled 12 more bodies from crumpled cars a day after the crash, officials said.

The collision took place on a dilapidated railway track in Ghotki, a district in the southern Sindh province, when an express train barrelled into another that had derailed minutes earlier, before dawn, on June 7.

Most of the passengers — there were about 1,100 on both trains — were asleep when the Millat Express, travelling between the southern port city of Karachi to Sargodha in eastern Punjab province, derailed and many of its cars overturned. As passengers scrambled to get out, another passenger train, the Sir Syed Express, crashed into the derailed coaches.

Rescue work continued throughout the day on June 7, overnight and into June 8. Bodies of passengers killed in the crash were taken to their hometowns for burial.

Shafiq Ahmed Mahisar, commissioner in Sukkar district, said 12 more bodies were retrieved after the overnight efforts. More than 100 passengers were injured, he said.

Army engineers and soldiers dispatched from a nearby military base assisted in the rescue and heavy machinery arrived in Ghotki hours later, to cut open some train cars.

It was unclear exactly what caused the derailment. Aijaz Ahmed, the driver of Sir Syed Express, said he braked when he saw the disabled train but did not have time to avoid the collision.

The more critically injured were transported to hospitals with better facilities in Sindh and Punjab province, while those more stable were being treated in Ghotki hospital, said Usman Abdullah, who also confirmed the 63 fatalities.

Ata Mohammad, a passenger, said he was asleep on the Millat Express when it derailed. He woke up to a big jolt and saw other passengers trying to climb out from overturned and derailed coaches. Then the other train hit.

“I feel as if I am still hearing cries,” Mr. Mohammad, who lost family members in the incident, wept.

Sher Muhammad, a 45-year-old farmer, was working on his land when he saw a train derail on the tracks some distance away. He rushed to the scene but before he could reach it, the second train crashed into the first.

“I don’t know whether I will be able to forget that tragic scene,” Mr. Muhammad said, recounting how he saw women, children and men crying for help.

Villagers who reached the scene first started helping the victims, pulling the injured and the dead from the wreckage until ambulances started coming.

According to Azam Swati, Minister for Railways, experts were still trying to determine the cause of the accident. Mr. Swati told The Associated Press that all aspects would be examined, including the possibility of sabotage.

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