Railways minister suggests ‘foul play’ as cause.
The death toll from the rail accident Thursday which saw a special military train fall into a canal when a bridge partially collapsed has reached 17, according to the Army on Friday
A senior officer was among those killed when four of the train’s carriages carrying troops and military equipment derailed and fell from Chanawan Bridge in the Punjab.
“Total bodies recovered till now [are] 17. Search [still] continues,” Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, the Army’s main spokesman, said in a tweet.
The incident occurred near the eastern town of Wazirabad as the train carried soldiers from Sindh province to the garrison town of Kharian. It is not yet clear why the bridge—a simple, single-track rail-only crossing passing just a few feet above the water of the canal—collapsed.
Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique hinted there may have been foul play involved, saying a heavier train had crossed the same bridge an hour earlier without a problem.
But a spokesman from Pakistan Railways said an investigation into the incident was still ongoing. “We have submitted an initial report to the prime minister but the exact details will be ascertained after complete investigations,” said Rauf Tahir. “It’s an unusual event. We are investigating the reason for this sudden collapse of the bridge.”
Pakistan inherited thousands of miles of track and trains from the former colonial power, Britain, but the railways have seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement and under-investment.