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At least 6 killed, dozens injured in Pakistan train crash

Residents gather at the site of the train crash outside Multan, Pakistan.
(SS Mirza / AFP/Getty Images)

A passenger train slammed into a freight train that had stopped on the tracks outside the Pakistani city of Multan, killing at least six people and injuring dozens, rescue officials said Thursday.

A freight train carrying goods had stopped before dawn about 12 miles outside Multan after striking a person crossing the track, said Javaid Answar, a senior official of Pakistan Railways. The track signal turned red, but the oncoming passenger train missed the signal and hit the freight train.

“Initial investigations show it was the train driver’s fault, but a comprehensive investigation of the incident will be furnished in a week,” Answar said. The identities of those killed were not immediately disclosed.

The crash destroyed the first four cars of the 10-car passenger train, which was en route to the southern port city of Karachi, witnesses said. Many of the passengers were returning from celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

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Muhammad Kashif, a father of four, was traveling with his family from the northern city of Rawalpindi after celebrating Eid with his parents and brothers. The train reached Multan in southern Punjab province shortly after 2 a.m. and then set off with another 10 hours left in the journey, he said.

“All my kids were sleeping in the berths,” said Kashif, 45. “My wife and I were sitting in the seats when there was a big bang with huge impact. All my kids fell from the berths. Luckily none of them was seriously injured.”

Kashif and his family were sitting in the sixth car. When he climbed out of the train he saw the first three or four cars destroyed or badly mangled, and blood and injured passengers everywhere.

“Most of the people were asleep when the trains hit,” he said. “It was hard to understand what happened.”

The six cars that were not heavily damaged were transported with a new engine to a nearby railway station, officials said.

A rescue official in Multan said more than 80 passengers were injured in the accident. More than 50 were treated at the scene while 33 more were taken to Nishtar Hospital in Multan.

Many of the victims suffered head injuries and 10 were in serious condition, Dr. Ashiq Malik, the head of the hospital, told The Times by phone.

Railway accidents occur with deadly frequency in Pakistan, where the train network dates to the British colonial era and many tracks and crossings are in disrepair.

Last year, 19 passengers were killed when an army train derailed and caused a bridge to collapse. Railway officials blamed the driver, but an investigation later cited the poor condition of the track.

Sahi is a special correspondent. Staff writer Shashank Bengali contributed to this report from Mumbai, India.

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UPDATES:

3 a.m. Sept. 15: Updated with Times reporting.

This article was first posted at 8:45 p.m. Sept. 14.


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