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Pakistan Train Wreck Kills 35

December 25, 1997

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ A passenger train plowed into a second train parked at a fog-bound Punjab station on Christmas Eve, killing at least 35 people and injuring 100.

The Rohi Express, bound for Islamabad, was traveling at top speed when it slammed into a local train 180 miles southeast of Islamabad shortly before midnight Wednesday, the state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan said.

It wasn’t known how many passengers were on the two trains, but emergency workers feared the death toll at Rustam Sargana could increase as rescuers pried away more of the twisted and charred pieces of metal.

Villagers, the first to arrive on the scene, used their hands to pull at the wreckage to reach screaming passengers, witnesses said.

Officials were investigating the crash, but apparently the Rohi Express was supposed to be switched onto a parallel set of tracks.

Visibility at the time was extremely poor because of heavy fog, the APP said.

``Officials were still investigating the crash, but it is believed that the accident occurred due to the foggy weather,″ the APP quoted local officials at the scene as saying.

A local train that runs between Sargodha and Multan in eastern Punjab was parked at Rustam Sargana when the Rohi Express drove into it, the APP said.

Pakistan’s only country-wide emergency service, Edhi Ambulance, sent several ambulances to the wreckage site to bring victims to the nearest hospital _ 12 miles away in Jhang.

Officials at the hospital, which serves the entire district, declared an emergency and put out a plea for blood donations.

Some victims were loaded onto pick up trucks and taken to hospital, witnesses said.

Pakistan’s train system is an antiquated one.

In March a runaway passenger train jumped its tracks and slammed into a sand dune also in eastern Punjab, killing 135 people and injuring nearly 200.

Preliminary investigations into that accident said the brakes on the express train failed.

The deadliest train crash occurred in 1989 when two passenger trains slammed into each other in southern Sindh province, killing 850 people.

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