30 killed, 100 injured as train derails in Pakistan

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A search operation is underway after 30 passengers were killed and 100 injured as train derailed in Pakistan on August 6, 2023.

A passenger train derailed in southern Pakistan, resulting in the death of at least 30 people and causing injuries to over 100 individuals, as per local broadcaster Geo TV.

Nearly 275km away from Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, the passenger train suffered a derailment, with approximately 10 train cars going off the tracks near a town situated in the southern province of Sindh.

On Sunday, Commissioner Benazirabad division Abbas Baloch said in a statement that at least 30 died in the incident while passengers are still stranded in a bogie.

He said a relief train is also about to arrive and emergency has been imposed in hospitals of the district.

Accidents on Pakistan’s decaying rail system are common and successive governments have for years been trying to secure funds to upgrade the rail network as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative for infrastructure projects.

Benazirabad Deputy Inspector General of Police Younis Chandio said that nine out of 10 wrecked bogies had been cleared, with injured and deceased being pulled out. He said that the remaining bogie needs heavy machinery to be cleared.

People on the site and local authorities have shifted the wounded passengers to the People’s Medical Hospital in Nawabshah, which reportedly can cater to around 1,000 people.

The train operations to and from the interior districts of Sindh were suspended after the train crash, affecting the routine of thousands, with railway authorities saying that it may take up to 18 hours to restore operations.

Authorities fear heavy material and life losses as the ill-fated train is said to be carrying a large number of people, even more than its capacity.

The train, comprising 17 bogies with a capacity of 950 passengers in its economy class and 72 in its air-conditioned standard coach, went off track on its way to Havelian from Karachi in district Sanghar, the senior superintendent of police said.

He said that 10 station house officers (SHO), four district superintendents of police (DSPs), and more than 100 police personnel are participating in rescue work.

Federal Minister for Railways and Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafique, during a press conference, said someone could have “deliberately” caused the accident and it could also be a mechanical fault.

“First, we will provide relief and then investigate. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah is reaching the site. Emergency has been imposed in hospitals in Sukkur,” the federal minister said.

Pertinently, the same locomotive — heading to Havelian from Karachi — had escaped a grave accident in March this year after railway officials put a rusted train on tracks. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

The latest accident came just a day after three coaches of Allama Iqbal Express — travelling from Karachi to Sialkot — derailed, but no one suffered injuries.

Pakistan has a shoddy record when it comes to accidents involving trains. In the past decade, the country has witnessed a number of deadly train accidents, and they seem to have increased in frequency over the past few years.

In June 2021 two trains collided near Daharki in Sindh killing at least 65 people and injuring about 150 others.

In that accident, an express derailed onto the opposite track, and a second passenger train crashed into the wreckage roughly a minute later.

At least 75 passengers burnt to death in a fire aboard the Tezgam express train in October 2019, while a two-train collision at Ghotki killed more than 100 people in 2005.

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