Sir Syed Express crashed into derailed Millat Express in Ghotki district, leaving at least 30 dead and 60 others injured
Two express trains collided in Sindh’s Ghotki district early on Monday morning, leaving at least 30 passengers dead, and more than 50 others injured, according to authorities, as rescue efforts continue to recover the dead and injured from the wreckage.
Pakistan Railways officials have said the collision occurred around 3:45 a.m. and there were around 1,100 passengers in the trains at the time of the crash. They said the Millat Express was traveling from Karachi to Sargodha, while the Sir Syed Express was going from Rawalpindi to Karachi. The Millat Express derailed near Daharki, resulting in the Sir Syed crashing into it. The officials said eight bogies of the Millat Express had derailed, while three bogies, including the engine, of the Sir Syed Express had likewise been impacted.
A rescue operation is currently underway, with Prime Minister Imran Khan announcing he has directed Railways Minister Azam Swati to reach the site and personally ensure medical assistance is provided to the injured. “Shocked by the horrific train accident at Ghotki early this morning,” he wrote in a posting on Twitter. “Ordering comprehensive investigation into railway safety faultlines,” he added. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has, meanwhile, suggested it is too early to determine the cause of the derailment. “It is too early to say whether it was terrorism, a technical fault, or human error,” he said in a posting on Twitter.
Appearing on private broadcaster Geo News, Pakistan Railways Chairman Habibur Rehman Gilani said the government was aware of the dilapidated tracks on the route but didn’t want to waste “millions” on its repairs or upgradation until the new ML-1 track launched by the incumbent government has been completed. “We would waste money because the track widths and different,” he said, and was unable to respond to a question on whether saving the money was more important than ensuring the safety of citizens who use the railway service.
According to rescue workers, at least 25 passengers are believed to still be trapped in the wreckage. They said heavy machinery had reached the site to help in the relief operations. The Pakistan Army and the paramilitary Rangers have also been deployed to the site and are aiding in rescue efforts. In a statement, the Inter-Services Public Relations said military doctors and ambulances had been dispatched from nearby Pano Aqil and were aiding in rescue efforts. It said Army engineers and specialist teams of Urban Search and Rescue were also being airlifted from Rawalpindi to offer their expertise.
Additionally, said the ISPR, two helicopters were being dispatched from Multan to help in casualty evacuations.
According to Railways officials, the drivers and crew of both trains are safe.
Train accidents are not uncommon in Pakistan, with at least 8 crashes occurring during the three years comprising the tenure of the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government. At least 75 people died when a train caught fire while traveling from Karachi to Rawalpindi in October 2019. Similarly, at least 19 people died in February 2019 after a passenger bus collided with a Pakistan Express train near Rohri.