Multan - As many as six people were killed and another 90 injured when a Karachi-bound express rammed into a freight train near Multan yesterday.

The Awam Express was coming from Peshawar when it had the accident at 3am in Buch Station of Sher Shah.

Two of the deceased were identified as Nasir, 23, resident of Rahim Yar Khan, and Sardar, 40, resident of Rahim Yar Khan, while two others remained unidentified till filing of this report.

The injured were rushed to Nishtar Hospital, Shehbaz Sharif General Hospital and Multan Civil Hospital. The government declared emergency in the hospitals while the medics made an appeal to people for donating blood.

Rescue operation begun three hours after the accident, sources in the Railways said. "It was dark when the accident took place and the rescue operation began when the Army teams reached the spot. They were joined by the Rescue 1122, Railway and police personnel," the sources added.

Driver Abdul Rauf was blamed for showing negligence but he denied.

Railway official Saima Bashir blamed the accident on the passenger train driver, saying he failed to notice a red signal that went up after the goods train had stopped.

It was learnt that the freight was stopped following an incident of suicide on the track. Multan Deputy Commissioner Nadir Chattha said that the freight was forced to stop after the suicide. The man, who ended his life, could not be identified yet. However, the driver told the media that the officers “tried to conceal the shortcomings of the department by making the workers scapegoat”.

He claimed that the drivers were untrained and they could not read the new signal system. Railways Minister Kh Saad Rafiq ordered an inquiry and sought report within 72 hours.

Train tragedies are common in the country, as the department has seen decades of decline because of corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment.

Nineteen people were killed in Baluchistan in November last when a train's brakes failed and it sped down the side of a mountain.

In July 2015, at least 17 people were killed when a military train fell into a canal after a bridge partially collapsed.

The passengers told the media that the yesterday’s accident was so intense that after a big bang, the engine and carriages of the express ploughed onto the carriages of freight train. Four bogies of the Awam Express overturned while the engine and the power van were damaged completely. Cranes and ambulances filled in the area. Backed by the Army personnel, rescuers used metal-cutter to reach out to the trapped injured.

The affected engine and carriages were detached from the Awam Express and remaining 15 carriages were sent to Karachi with a new engine. The track to Karachi was closed and the service was suspended. Though the authorities offered to return their ticket money, the passengers refused the offer and demanded restore service as soon as possible.

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed sorrow over the accident and directed hospital authorities to provide best possible medical treatment to the injured people. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also issued directives to provide the injured with best medical treatment.