Worst Rail Crash: Kills 100s with injuries to 1000 in Pakistan

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GHOTKI: Three trains crashed in a deadly cCrane removes derbies of three passenger trains collide, Wednesday, July 13, 2005 at Ghotki, some 600 kilometers (370 miles) northeast of Karachi, Pakistan.hain-reaction after a train driver misread a signal, killing countless travellers and injuring at least a thousand in Pakistan’s worst rail disaster in more than a decade in the pre-dawn hours today, Wednesday.

The nighttime accident jolted passengers awake to a horrifying smash-up that left metal, glass and body parts strewn across a remote railway station near Ghotki. Rescuers frantically cut through twisted metal to reach survivors, as ambulances and buses ferried the injured to nearby hospitals.

“We woke up to a huge bang,” said Suraya, a 22-year-old girl. “I fell down to the floor. Then I heard the screams.”

Though the exact number of the dead is yet to being counted, which some reports put at between 200 to 250, the local police chief Agha Tahir said 120 bodies had been pulled from the wreckage. Hundreds more were injured. “It is a very gruesome situation,” he said.

Abdul Wahab Awan, general manager of Pakistan Railways, blamed the driver of the night-coach Karachi Express for misreading a signal and rear-ending another passenger train.

“The crash occurred because of misreading of a signal by the driver of Karachi Express and it rammed the Quetta Express, which was not moving,” Awan told Pakistan’s first independent daily E-newspaper ‘Pakistan Times’ by phone.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf offered his condolences to the injured and the families of those killed and promised that anyone guilty of negligence would be prosecuted.

Sabotage Ruled-out

Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema, the national crisis manager at the Interior Ministry, ruled out sabotage, saying the crash was “a pure accident.”

The accident occurred at about 04:00 PST [11:00 GMT] near Ghotki, some 370 miles northeast of the coastal city of Karachi in Sindh province. The initial collision derailed at least three carriages onto another track where they were struck by the third train, causing further derailment, said Abdul Aziz, a senior controller at Pakistan Railways. In all, some 13 cars derailed.

Chaudhry Nazir Ahmed, a railroad official in Ghotki, said over a thousand people were believed to be traveling on the three trains.

It was terrible accident where bodies were spreading everywhere and injured were crying.

Ambulances were called in from nearby cities while army, rangers and policemen were retrieving bodies from damaged bogies of trains.

Eyewitness

Naveed Zubairi, a cameraman with AssociatedSurvivors collect their belongings after a train crash at Sarhad railway station near the town of Ghotki, 430 km (270 miles) northeast of Karachi on July-13, 2005. Press Television News who happened to be traveling on the Karachi Express with his family, described a scene of confusion following the collision.

“My children were crying in the darkness. Then I made some light with my mobile phone to look around. There were injured people nearby,” he said.

“I went out of the carriage. Four carriages of another train on an adjacent track had fallen on one side and people in them were shouting for help. They were breaking windows to get out.” Zubairi suffered minor head injuries.

Some 50 bodies and over 150 injured people were taken to the Civil Hospital in the nearby town of Sukkur, said Iqbal Ahmed, a doctor. He said at least 12 people were in critical condition, some with lost limbs or massive head injuries.

Rescuers

Rescuers had to cut through metal to get to some of the injured, said Tahir, the local police chief. “They are being pulled out every minute,” he said.

Perspective

The Quetta Express was traveling from the eastern city of Lahore to the southwestern city of Quetta when a technical problem forced it to stop at the station. Technicians were working on the train when it was struck by the Karachi Express.

The impact pushed three carriages onto an adjacent track, and they in turn were hit by the Tezgam Express, heading from Karachi north to Rawalpindi.

In-depth

As reported by ‘Pakistan Times’ in its earlier edition today, Wednesday, more than 175 people were killed and almost a 1000 injured when a passenger train crashed into another at a station and a third train then plowed into the wreckage today, Wednesday.

Police said that the death toll could rise to 300 following the devastating pile-up near the remote town of Ghotki, where rescue workers were trying to extract hundreds of people from the derailed carriages.

Rescuers were searching through the twisted wreckage for more bodies and the toll from the pre-dawn disaster could even rise with the passage of time, a police commander said.

Yet another report quoting Police said the death toll could rise to 300 following the devastating pile-up near the remote town of Ghotki, where rescue workers were trying to extract hundreds of people still trapped in derailed carriages.

Many of the victims were women and children.

“It’s a painful scene. There are bodies scattered all over. People are crying, fathers are looking for children, husbands for their wives and brothers for their sisters,” a witness at the scene said by telephone.

A number of carriages catapaulted onto a nearby track and a third train, the Tez Gam Express, then ploughed into the smouldering wreckage. As many as 17 carriages were totally destroyed.

“I am on the scene. There are at least 125 people dead and around 1,000 are injured,” local police chief Agha Mohammad Tahir told AFP. Many of the victims were women and children, he said.

“When we reached here we saw a large number of dead bodies and injured people,” Tahir said.

Rana Nasrullah, police officer in charge of the local station, told state television there were “reports that 200 to 300 bodies are there.”

Ghotki, a small town in southern Sindh province, is 430 km (270 miles) northeast of Karachi.

Three passenger trains crashed in a chain-reaction pileup in a southern Pakistan station in pre-dawn hours today, Wednesday killing more than 100 people and injuring almost a 1000.

Gruesome Situation

“It is a very gruesome situation,” police chief Agha TahiWreckage of the passenger trains after their collision at Ghotki, some 600 Kms off the coastal city of Karachi on Wednesday, July-13, 2005.r said by adding; “Rescue workers have started to pull the dead and injured out. There were many people inside and there are a lot of casualties.”

“I just can’t give an exact death toll because a number of bodies are still in the wreckage but it is between 120 and over 150,” Ghotki police chief said and added; “It is a very severe accident.”

Abdul Wahab Awan, general manager of Pakistan Railways, said officials on the scene had told him more than 100 people were dead and hundreds more injured.

Rescue Ops

Military spokesman Colonel Idris Malik said troops have been rushed to the scene. “Our medical corps is also busy providing treatment to the injured people,” he said.

The crash started about 04:00 PST [23:00 GMT] when a train sitting in a station near the Sindh province city of Ghotki was hit in the rear by a second train, the Karachi Express. A third, oncoming train then slammed into cars derailed in the first crash, said Abdul Aziz, a senior controller at Pakistan Railways.

Negligence

Awan said the driver of the Karachi Express misread a signal.

“The crash occurred because of misreading of a signal by the driver of Karachi Express and it rammed the Quetta Express, which was not moving,” Awan viewed.

The injured were taken in ambulances and private car to area hospitals. Special trains were being sent to take stranded survivors to their destinations.

Ghotki, a remote vicinity is about 370 miles northeast of Pakistan’s coastal city of Karachi in Sindh province.

Quetta Express

The Quetta Express was carrying passengers from the eastern city of Lahore to the southwestern city of Quetta when it developed a technical problem and stopped at the station.

Technicians were working on the train when the Karachi Express, a night-coach from Lahore traveling to the southern port city of Karachi plowed into it.

The impact pushed cars onto an adjacent track where they were hit by the oncoming Tezgam Express, which was taking passengers from Karachi north to Rawalpindi, near the capital of Islamabad.

“I was sleeping. I woke up at the noise of a huge bang and then there was big jerk and smoke all over the place,” said a distraught injured passenger, Mohammad Amin.

“There was total darkness … I hit the floor and fainted,” said Amin who was desperately searching for his son.

It was not known if the Karachi train driver survived the crash.

Rail Traffic Halted

The accident has halted all railway traffic in the area and it would take many hours to restore.

Recap

Pakistan’s railways are antiquated, and dozens of people have been killed in train accidents in recent years. Ghotki has been a particularly dangerous point in the network and the site of repeated accidents over the years.

Railways are antiquated, and there have been many accidents in recent years — including several at Ghotki — blamed often on faulty equipment or human error.

A train carrying 800 passengers from Karachi to Lahore slammed into a parked freight train at Ghotki on June 8, 1991, killing more than 100 people. Authorities blamed staff negligence for that accident.

In December 1989, a train crash near Sangi, a town 35 miles from Ghotki, killed 400 people.

Dozens of people were killed in recent years on Pakistan’s ageing railway system. On March-5, five people died when a passenger train derailed in the central province of Punjab.

In September 2003, 27 people were killed when a train ploughed into a packed bus on a railway crossing, also in Punjab.

A train carrying 800 passengers from Karachi to Lahore slammed into a parked freight train at Ghotki on June-8 in 1991, killing more than 100 people. Authorities blamed staff negligence for that accident.

In December 1989, a train crash near Sangi, a town 35 miles from Ghotki, killed 400 people.

Information Cell

Relief activities are underway after the train accident Pakistani railway employee gives information to relatives of train accident victims.near Ghotki and in this connection an information cell has been formed at the Pakistan railway headquarters in Lahore.

Railway officials have requested the general public to first enquire the station officials before leaving for their destinations.

To cancel railway bookings and to enquire about the time confirmations the general public should contact the following number 111-217-217.

The cell can be contacted at the following numbers Lahore: 042-9201700 and 9201656. Sukkur: 071-9310067-69. (International Dialing Code for Pakistan is 00-92)

Chronology of Deadly Train Mishaps since 1900;

July 13, 2005: Three trains crash in a station near Ghotki, Pakistan; more than 100 dead.

April 25, 2005: 107 killed when a commuter train jumps the tracks north of Tokyo and slams into an apartment building.

March, 2005: Five killed, 25 injured in Central Pakistan. (Source: ESRI)

December 26, 2004: Up to 2,000 people die in train in Sri Lanka swamped by the South Asian tsunami.

April 22, 2004: Two trains collide and explode in a North Korea train station near the Chinese border, killing at least 161 and destroying thousands of homes.

February 18, 2004: Runaway train cars carrying fuel and industrial chemicals derail, setting off explosions that destroy five villages in Neyshabur, Iran; at least 200 killed.

September 2003: 27 Killed, Six Injured in Punjab province of Pakistan. (Source: ESRI)

February 20, 2002: Overcrowded train en route from Cairo to the southern Egyptian city of Luxor bursts into flames. At least 360 killed.

August 2, 1999: Two express trains collide head-on in Gauhati, India, killing more than 285.

August 20, 1995: Speeding passenger train crashes into a train that had stalled after hitting a cow in Firozabad, India; 358 killed.

September 22, 1994: Faulty brakes cause a train to plunge into a ravine in Tolunda, Angola, killing 300.

June 1991: More than 100 killed in Ghotki, Pakistan. (Source: ESRI)

January 4, 1990: Overcrowded 16-car passenger train strikes standing freight train in Sindh Province, Pakistan, killing more than 210.

December 1989: 400 killed near Ghotki, Pakistan. (Source: ESRI)

June 3, 1989: Explosion of liquefied gas pipeline engulfs two Trans-Siberian Railroad trains parked outside the Central Asian city of Ufa in what was then the Soviet Union; 575 die.

June 8, 1991: A train carrying 800 passengers from Karachi to Lahore slammed into a parked freight train at Ghotki, Pakistan, killing more than 100 people.

December 1989: A train crash near Sangi, a town 35 miles from Ghotki, Pakistan killed 400 people.

June 6, 1981: Train crashes after bridge collapses in flash floods during monsoon in Bihar, India, killing more than 800.

October 6, 1972: Train carrying religious pilgrims derails and catches fire in Saltillo, Mexico, killing 208.

February 1, 1970: Express train rams stationary commuter train in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 236.

November 9, 1963: Crash involving a freight train and two passenger trains in Tsurumi, outside Tokyo, kills 161.

May 3, 1962: 160 people killed in a three-train collision north of Tokyo.

September 29, 1957: Express train strikes stationary oil train in Montgomery, (West) Pakistan, killing 250.

April 3, 1955: Train plunges into a canyon in Guadalajara, Mexico, 300 killed.

October 22, 1949: Danzig-Warsaw express derails in Poland; more than 200 killed.

March 2, 1944: Train stalls in tunnel in Salerno, Italy, suffocating passengers. 521 die.

January 16, 1944: Train crashes in Torro Tunnel in Leon Province, Spain. More than 500 are killed.

December 12, 1917: Troop train derails near entrance of Mount Cenis tunnel in Modane, France; 543 die.

May 22, 1915: Passenger train collides with troop train in Gretna, Scotland, killing 227.

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