KARACHI: At least 22 people have been killed and dozens more injured after two trains carrying hundreds of passengers collided in the port city during morning rush hour on Thursday, officials said.
Witnesses described watching in horror as Zakaria Express sped into the city’s Quaidabad Railway Station and rammed into Fareed Express, which was stationary, with the roar of the crash swiftly followed by the screams of people trapped inside.
Officials said rescuers armed with metal-cutting equipment and heavy cranes had managed to pull all the passengers from the twisted wreckage.
“No-one is left inside,” Ijaz Ahmad Khan, a Karachi administrative official at the scene said.
Many were rushed to Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital, where the injured were screaming and crying while medics rushed to help them.
“I am dying, I am dying, please, please, I am dying,” cried Abdul Ghaffar, 55, as doctors tried to move his legs and hands. He appeared to have multiple injuries, while his children and wife were also wounded and lay on beds nearby.
Other victims appeared too stunned to talk. Many had head and foot injuries, and at least one man had his leg amputated below the knee.
An inquiry has been launched into the cause of the accident. Initial reports hinted that the tragic incident occurred due to a negligence of the Zakaria Express driver who reportedly ignored the railway signal.
PM orders inquiry, Railways announces compensation
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday ordered an inquiry into the train accident, seeking punishment for those found responsible.
Directing immediate rescue and relief work, the premier asked officials to provide best medical treatment to the injured.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique announced a compensation of Rs1.5 million for the family of each killed and Rs 3,50,000 for the injured on behalf of the Pakistan Railways.
Pakistan Railways announced 1.5 million PKR in compensation to families of departed soul in Khi Accident and 3 lac for injured ones.
— Khawaja Saad Rafique (@KhSaad_Rafique) November 3, 2016
Frequent rail accidents
Rail accidents are common in Pakistan, which inherited thousands of miles (kilometres) of track and trains from former colonial power Britain.
The railways have seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment.
Thursday’s crash was the second this year involving the Fareed Express. In February the northbound train hit a van at a crossing in southern Pakistan, killing eight people from the same family.
Railway accidents in Pakistan often take place at the unmanned crossings, which often lack barriers and sometimes signals.