–Railways Ministry blames bus driver for accident, says passengers travelling on train were unharmed
–Sindh CM takes notice of incident, imposes medical emergency in Sukkur
KARACHI: At least 20 people were killed and scores received injuries after a Rawalpindi-bound passenger train, Pakistan Express, rammed into a bus at a railway crossing near Rohri in Sukkur division.
According to Sukkur Commissioner Shafiq Mahesar, the injured, that included women and children, were shifted to Taluka Hospital Rohri and Civil Hospital Sukkur.
“It is a huge tragedy and all administration and police officials are rushing to the site,” said the commissioner. “It was an unmanned railway crossing as nothing existed there to prevent any traffic,” he added, fearing that the death toll could rise.
“The rescue operation is underway. We are searching roads till 1 kilometer from the accident site,” said the commissioner.
The traffic on the Punjab-Sindh track has also been suspended till the track is cleared of the rubble.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took notice of the incident and directed the Sukkur commissioner to dispatch rescue teams to the area.
The CM also called for an emergency to be declared at all hospitals in Khairpur, and directed the authorities concerned to ensure ample medicines and blood for those injured in the incident.
‘BUS DRIVER AT FAULT’:
Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed blamed the bus driver for the accident as he expressed sorrow over the loss of lives.
A railways ministry spokesperson said that the train’s engine was damaged in the collision, while the assistant driver sustained injuries, adding that the passengers on the train remained safe. He added that the federal government inspector of railways (FGIR) will investigate the incident.
According to the spokesperson there are “2,470 unmanned crossings” in the country and the department has asked the provincial governments several times to depute personnel to avoid any untoward incident.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari expressed grief over the loss of life and directed the Sindh government to provide medical treatment to the injured, said a spokesperson.
“Train accidents are a question mark over the federal government’s performance,” the PPP chief was quoted as saying. “After how many accidents will Imran Khan, who used to talk about resignations after a single accident happened, go home?”
TIMELINE OF TRAIN ACCIDENTS:
On Oct 31, seventy-four people were killed after the Tezgam Express caught fire near Rahim Yar Khan. The fire spread to three bogies of the moving train. It was heading to Rawalpindi from Karachi and was near the Tanwari Railway Station when the fire erupted.
Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed had claimed that the incident took place due to gas cylinders carried by tableeghi jamaat members.
Below are the train accidents to take place since Sept 2018:
September 16, 2018: Nine bogies of the Peshawar-bound Khushal Khan Khattak Express from Karachi derailed near Attock. 20 passengers were injured.
September 27, 2018: Another Peshawar-bound train derailed in which 11 bogies overturned in Sehwan, Sindh.
December 18, 2018: 12 children were injured as a passenger train crashed into a school van near Narowal, Punjab. Local witnesses said the accident happened due to dense fog and because the gate at the crossing was left open.
June 9, 2019: Twenty-three bogies of a Karachi-bound freight train derailed in Sukkur.
June 20, 2019: Three people were killed when a passenger train collided with a stationary cargo train at Makli Shah, near Hyderabad.
July 11, 2019: At least 24 people died when the Akbar Express had a parked cargo train at the Walhaar Station near Sadiqabad.
August 30, 2019: At least 12 people were injured when three coaches of Karachi-bound Rehman Baba Express, along with their locomotive, derailed near Toba Tek Singh.
October 4, 2019: At least two passengers were injured when two bogies of Peshawar-bound Rehman Baba Express derailed at the Taxila railway station.
October 21, 2019: 73 killed in Tezgam train inferno near Rahim Yar Khan after a cylinder bursts.
It may be mentioned here that while negligence and incompetence of railways authorities are responsible for most major train accidents, violations of rules and regulations by passengers also become the reason behind accidents that affect both the perpetrators and other innocent lives.
This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly