RAHIM YAR KHAN - A passenger train has rammed into a freight train at a railway station in Rahim Yar Khan, killing at least 21 people and injuring 89 others.

The freight train was stationary when the speeding passenger train hit it at Walhar Railway Station in Rahim Yar Khan.

Earlier, only eight deaths were reported but later the toll of Akbar Express train accident shot up to 21 including four of same family while 89 other people including women and children were injured.

The Quetta-bound Akbar Express train hit a freight train parked on loop line track at Walhar railway station in Rahimyar Khan on Thursday morning.

District Police Officer Rahimyar Khan Umar Salam said that some more injured admitted to Sheikh Zayed Hospital had succumbed to their injuries. He said that the dead included four members of same family including a man and his wife and two sons.

He said that the train accident occurred at about 4:30am Thursday morning. He said that the railway operation system fault and human error might be the cause behind the horrible train accident. “Akbar Express Train which was on main track suddenly went on loop line track at Walhar railway station while a goods train was already parked on loop line track,” he said, adding that resultantly Akbar Express struck the cargo train.

Army soldiers lead relief-rescue operation

He said that 11 passengers including eight women and the driver of the locomotive were killed on the spot while nearly 90 others among them women and children were injured.

The DPO said that the condition of 12 injured was very serious. He said that dead and injured were shifted to Tehsil Headquarters Hospital (THQ) Sadiqabad and Sheikh Zayed Hospital Rahimyar Khan.

ASP Sadiqabad Dr Hafiz-Ur-Rehman Bugti who along with police and rescue teams immediately reached the scene soon after receiving information about the incident, said that the locomotive and four bogies were completely destroyed.

He said that hydraulic cutters were brought and used to cut the damaged bogies to retrieve dead bodies and injured commuters.

He said that Pak Army personnel also reached the site and participated in rescue and relief operation. “Other organisations including Rahimyar Khan district police, Punjab Emergency Service Rescue 1122 and Civil Defence also took part in the rescue operation,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner Rahimyar Khan Jameel Ahmed Jameel said that ambulances were called from all major hospitals of the district who transported dead and injured to hospital. He said that 12 critically injured were shifted from THQ Sadiqabad to Sheikh Zayed Hospital Rahimyar Khan. “Emergency was declared at all major hospitals of Rahimyar Khan,” he said.

He said that relief trains of Pakistan Railways reached the area and removed six bogies from the damaged train which later attaching with another locomotive and were sent to Quetta.

The officials of Pakistan Railways said that apparently, it was human error behind the train accident. “The change of signal might be cause of going of Akbar Express train from main track to loop line track,” they said. They, however, said that a high-level team had been investigating the incident.

The Pakistan Railways has established an information cell at Railways Sukkur divisional headquarters to facilitate the relatives of unfortunate passengers.

According to a PR spokesman, Federal Government Inspector for Railways will launch an investigation into the accident in which train driver of Akbar Express Abdul Khaliq and assistant driver Farman were seriously injured.

HUMAN ERROR ‘CAUSE’ OF ACCIDENT

Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed expressed his heartfelt condolence over the loss of precious lives in the train accident.

In his condolence message, the minister said he has already ordered investigation into the accident. Apparently, the accident seems the result of human negligence.

General Manager Railways,Federal Government Inspector for Railways and relevant officials have already left for the place of accident to supervise relief activities and investigations.

Sheikh Rasheed summoned a comprehensive report from pertaining officials. “In the case of negligence, we will not spare those due to which incident took place. I’m myself monitoring entire scenario”, Rasheed told media.

Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed also announced compensation for the victims of the train tragedy.

The minister announced to give Rs1.5 million to each bereaved family and Rs0.5 million to the family of each injured person.

PM FOR IMPROVING SAFETY STANDARDS

Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the Railways Minister to take emergency measures to improve decades-old infrastructure of railways to avert train accidents.

The direction came in response to the fatal train accident in Rahim Yar Khan.

The Prime Minister stressed the need to ensure safety standards of railways across the country. He also expressed deep grief over a number of casualties and directed provision of best possible medical treatment to the injured.

President Dr Arif Alvi also expressed his profound grief on the fatal trains collision. The President prayed for the departed souls to rest in peace and conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families. He also wished speedy recovery to the injured.

The ageing railway network carries both passengers and goods across the country, but suffers periodic derailments and other accidents due to aging infrastructure.

A major Chinese investment in the country is seeking to upgrade the main railway line that connects the length of the country, raising speeds and safety standards.