KHAIRPUR - A speeding passenger bus smashed into a tractor-trailer in Sukkur district on Sunday, killing 42 people including 14 children and injuring more than a dozen others with many in critical condition.
Several passengers were trapped inside the pink bus that was left badly mangled after the high-speed crash on national highway near Sangi, 425 kilometres north of Karachi. The bus was going to Kot Adu from Karachi.
Most of the passengers belonged to Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Kot Adu. Police and rescue teams reached after almost one hour at the spot. Excavators were used to pull the tractor-trailer from the bus, as rescuers struggled to pull out the stranded passengers.
"Most of the passengers were trapped between their seats; we rescued them by cutting the bus body with metal cutters," senior police official Muhammad Faisal said.
One eyewitness said he saw several passengers pleading for help. "They were screaming and shouting: 'save us, save us'," he told reporters. He said the speeding bus was trying to overtake the tractor-trailer when it veered out of control. The collision was so severe that 25 passengers died on the spot, he added.
The dead included six members of a 10-member family who were travelling on the bus to visit their relatives in Karachi. "We were ten members of one family. Six of them died," said 18-year-old Maryam Bibi, weeping. Bibi survived the crash along with her six-year-old brother.
The dead included 14 children and 13 women, said Fida Hussain Shah, a senior Sukkur police officer, adding that the bus driver was killed on the spot while the driver of the tractor-trailer sustained serious injuries. Shah confirmed that over speeding by the bus was the cause of the accident. The dead included Irshad Ali, Tahir Ali, Muhammad Khalid, Hafeez Ahmed, Sakina, Ahsan, Suleman, Mariam, Fozia, Fatima, Rehana and Ali Hassan.
The injured were initially brought to Taluka hospital Pano Aqil, Pano Aqil Cantonment hospital and Sukkur hospital. Most of the 17 injured were in critical condition and several were transferred to a hospital in Karachi after initial treatment in Sukkur. The wounded included Rana Irshad, Suhail, Sahib Ali, Shahzad, Daniyal, Farhana, Nasreen, Nausheenm, Irsalan, Shakoor, Muhammad Ramzan, Bakhtawar, Muhammad Hashim, Zulqarnain, Tabinda Malik, Muhammad Kamran, Rehan, Muhammad Waseem, Asif Muhammad Mehboob and Sahib Ali.
Pakistan has one of the world's worst records for fatal traffic accidents due to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving. Sixteen people were killed and 49 injured when an overloaded truck crashed into a ravine earlier this month in the central province of Punjab. A collision between two buses and a petrol tanker killed 35 people in southwest Pakistan in late March.