Passenger Train Crashes, Killing And Wounding As Many As 75
SUKKUR, Pakistan (AP) _ An express train packed with sleeping passengers slammed into a parked freight train on Sunday, and as many as 75 people were killed or injured, officials said.
The government of southern Sindh province ordered an inquiry into the predawn crash, about 75 miles north of the interior city of Sukkur.
Officials initially said they believed 150 people were killed, but later changed the figure to 75 killed or injured. They did not give a breakdown.
According to Pakistan’s state-run news agency, the government suspended the assistant station master at the tiny rail stop of Reti, where the accident occured, after he fled the scene. It wasn’t immediately known why he fled.
An initial investigation indicated that an erroneous signal may have sent the passenger train barreling down a track blocked by the parked freight train, officials said.
Railway officials said they didn’t know how many passengers were on board the 15-car express train. They said the first two cars were reduced to twisted metal and a third car was derailed.
Witnesses said villagers, many of them awakened by the sound of churning metal, ran to the site with blankets and bandages.
About 400 soldiers helped ambulance workers pull dead and wounded from the wreckage, said Maj. Abdul Chishti, an army spokesman.
Pakistan’s antiquated railway system has been plagued with accidents. The system was developed by the British before the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947, and many Pakistanis say it has not been properly maintained.
Last year the government suspended the head of Pakistan’s railway after a passenger train rammed head-on into a parked freight train, killing 100 people and wounding scores more.