21 killed, 50 hurt in Karachi train disaster


Zakaria Express rams into Fareed Express

Salahuddin Haider

Karachi—In an early morning tragedy, shortly after 7am on Thursday a major train disaster shook Karachi as most people, still recovering from their sleep, were horrified to learn that 21 precious lives were lost and over 50 wounded, some critically when in Landhi area a train rammed into a stationery one.
The Divisional Superintendent Railways, Karachi said that Zakaria Express, coming from Multan, ignored the signal, and rammed into stationery Fareed Express, in-bound from Lahore.
The impact caused by the collision was so severe that people heard it at far away places, forcing them to rush out from their homes, and converge at the scene on learning that it was a train crash.
In Islamabad, Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq narrated the same story. The driver and his colleague fled from the scene, though the minister thought that they would not escape and would be arrested soon.
The injured were transferred to Jinnah Hospital, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and Civil Hospital, where emergency was declared.
At least 20 injured were shifted to Jinnah Hospital.
Initial investigation reveals that the driver of Zakaria Express ignored the signal that was working normally. The driver or Zakaria Express ignored the first signal, amber in colour which normally alerts the oncoming driver of abnormal situation ahead, but he even ignored the red signal, which meant a dead stop of the incoming train.
This was a serious mistake, from which neither the driver nor his colleague could escape punishment, sources said. Police and rescue teams reached the place of the collision to assist in relief efforts.
Sources also revealed that bogies of the two trains were badly damaged.
Initial reports said that among those killed were two women and three children. Sources said that four members of a family, including two 5-year old twin sisters, Sakina and Zara, and their parents also perished. The body of a child was brought out later. Rescue teams from Pakistan Army, Navy and Rangers, with their ambulances and medical teams reached the accident.
Heavy machinery reached the scene late atleast by two hours. Instruments were used to cut the damaged structures in order to rescue the injured. The vital question is that trains entering into city areas reduce their speed to avoid accidents because of the overpopulated areas, but in this case the Multan train was perhaps running at full speed, which proved fatal. Thirteen bodies were handed over to their families, officials on the spot said.
Fareed Express was coming to Karachi from Lahore, while Zakaria Express had set off from Multan. The government has ordered an inquiry into the incident and announced Rs1.5m for each affected family as compensation for the dead and Rs0.3m for each injured.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered an inquiry into the accident and sought punishment for those found responsible.
He directed for immediate rescue and relief activities to save lives of those stranded and critically injured persons and called for best medical treatment for them.
He also expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives and prayed for eternal peace for the dead.

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