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51 killed, scores injured as two trains collide in Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan: At least 51 people have been killed and scores injured after a train collision near the Pakistani’s town of Dharki, officials say, with rescue work still underway to find survivors trapped in the debris.

The collision took place early on Monday morning near the town of Dharki, about 440 kilometres north of Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi.

“It is a very serious situation. So far 51 dead bodies have been found and the injured, there are 98, but the number keeps rising,” said Dr Manzoor Jakhrani, a senior health official.

“Rescue work is ongoing, people are still trapped in the trains.”

Television footage from the site of the crash showed the mangled wreckage of the two trains strewn across the track, with rescuers using cranes and other equipment to try and reach those trapped inside.

The accident took place when eight compartments of the northbound Millat Express train derailed near Dharki, local official Razzaq Minhas said. Sir Syed Express passenger train then hit the derailed compartments, he said.

“Rescuers are still trying to get into at least two crashed bogeys, they are still removing the debris,” he said. “Equipment and paramilitary forces are there to remove the debris.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked” by the crash, and ordered Railways Minister Azam Swati to reach the site of the accident on Monday.

“Have asked railway minister to reach the site and ensure medical assistance to injured and support for families of the dead,” he tweeted. “Ordering comprehensive investigation into railway safety faultlines.”

The Pakistani military said it had dispatched rescue helicopters, ambulances and specialized search and rescue crews to the site of the crash.

“Engineer resources moved to carry out necessary relief and rescue work,” said a military statement. “Army special Engineer Team [for] Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) being heli-lifted from Rawalpindi to the incident site to speed up relief and rescue efforts.”

Pakistan’s ageing railway system has seen numerous accidents and crashes in recent years, with successive governments investing little in maintaining the tracks and signal systems.

In 2019, at least 73 people were killed after a gas canister blast and fire onboard an overcrowded passenger train near the town of Liaquatpur.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday expressed shock at the Ghotki train accident, ordering a “comprehensive investigation” into the matter.

At least 32 people were killed and 64 injured early Monday morning when two trains collided at the Ghotki train station.

Taking to Twitter, the prime minister reacted to the incident, instructing Railways Minister Azam Swati to arrive at the site and help the injured with the provision of medical assistance.

“Shocked by the horrific train accident at Ghotki early this morning leaving 30 passengers dead. Have asked Railway Minister to reach the site and ensure medical assistance to the injured and support for families of the dead. Ordering a comprehensive investigation into railway safety fault lines,” he tweeted.