Pakistan train collision toll rises to 63

·2-min read

The death toll from a horrific collision of two trains in southern Pakistan has risen to 63 after rescuers pulled 12 more bodies from crumpled cars a day after the crash.

The collision took place on a dilapidated railway track in Ghotki, a district in the southern Sindh province, when an express train barrelled into another that had derailed minutes earlier before dawn on Monday.

Most of the passengers - about 1100 were on both trains - were asleep when the Millat Express, travelling between the southern port city of Karachi to Sargodha in eastern Punjab province, derailed and many of its cars overturned.

As passengers scrambled to get out, another passenger train, the Sir Syed Express, crashed into the derailed coaches.

Rescue work continued throughout the day on Monday, overnight and into Tuesday. Bodies of passengers killed in the crash were taken to their home towns for burial.

Shafiq Ahmed Mahisar, commissioner in Sukkar district, said 12 more bodies were retrieved after the overnight efforts.

More than 100 passengers were injured, he said.

Army engineers and soldiers dispatched from a nearby military base assisted in the rescue and heavy machinery arrived in Ghotki hours later to cut open train cars.

It's unclear exactly what caused the derailment. Aijaz Ahmed, the driver of Sir Syed Express, said he braked when he saw the disabled train but did not have time to avoid the collision.

The more critically injured were transported to hospitals with better facilities in Sindh and also Punjab province, while those more stable were being treated in Ghotki hospital, said Usman Abdullah, who also confirmed the 63 fatalities.

According to Azam Swati, the minister for railways, all aspects of the crash would be examined, including the possibility of sabotage.

By noon on Tuesday, the military said the rescue operation was completed and the railroad track in Ghotki was being repaired to resume train service.

Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where successive governments have paid little attention to improving the poorly maintained signal system and ageing tracks.

In 1990, a packed passenger ploughed into a standing freight train in southern Pakistan, killing 210 people in the worst rail disaster in the nation's history.

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