ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Two express trains collided in southern Pakistan on Monday morning, killing at least 32 passengers and injuring 80 others, officials said, the latest in a series of train crashes that have left people dead. serious questions about the safety of train travel in the country. .
Most of the passengers were asleep when the Millat Express, a passenger train connecting the southern port city of Karachi with Sargodha in Punjab province, derailed and fell across the track. Within minutes, another passenger train, the Sir Syed Express, en route to Karachi from Lahore in eastern Pakistan, crashed into the fallen cars of the first train, leaving a mutilated wreckage. local media reported.
The collision occurred between Daharki and Raiti stations in the southern province of Sindh, said Nazia Jabeen, spokeswoman for Pakistan Railways.
A rescue operation was underway, Ms Jabeen said. Several of the injured were admitted to hospitals in Rohri, Pannu Aqil and Sukkur districts, she said, adding that the death toll is likely to rise.
The Pakistani military said military medics and paramedics from a nearby base were helping with relief efforts. Army and paramilitary troops were already at the crash site and two army helicopters were involved in the evacuations.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Twitter that he was “shocked by the horrific train accident” and ordered a “full investigation into the railway safety loopholes”.
Pakistani Minister of Railways Azam Khan Swati said a high-level investigation had been ordered to determine the cause of the collision. “It is too early to say whether the accident was due to sabotage or the dilapidated nature of the tracks,” said Mr Swati.
Pakistan has a catastrophic rail safety record, and the system is plagued by corruption and mismanagement. The promises of successive governments to reform the system have not been kept. Khan, who came to power in 2018, pledged to modernize the poorly maintained signaling system and aging tracks in the system, and to ensure its security mechanisms.
But train accidents were also common under Mr. Khan’s government. More than 70 people were killed when a train caught fire in 2019, in one of the worst train accidents in recent years.
In 2005, three trains crashed in a deadly chain reaction after a train conductor misread a signal, killing at least 127 people and injuring hundreds more in southern Pakistan. At least 210 people died and 700 others were injured in 1990, when a train on an overnight 500-mile journey south from Multan to Karachi struck an empty freight train. Officials blamed an improperly adjusted switch.