ISLAMABAD, Aug 7 (PTI): Pakistan’s railway department will conduct an inspection on Monday at the site of a major accident in Sindh province where an express train derailed and killed at least 31 people and injured 130 others.
The Hazara Express train travelling from Karachi to Rawalpindi derailed on Sunday in Nawabshah district near the Sarhari Railway Station, 275 kilometres from the provincial capital Karachi.
Ten bogies went off the track and they were removed while repair works were underway.
The administration of the People’s Medical College Hospital in Benazirabad – the district home to Nawabshah, said that over 120 injured had been shifted to the facility and most of them have been discharged after treatment while 30 people are currently undergoing treatment, Geo News reported.
Also, a total of 29 bodies were claimed and taken by family members while the bodies of two deceased women – who could not be identified – are still at the hospital.
The railway department will conduct an inspection of the site of the Hazara Express derailment in district Sanghar’s Nawabshah Monday to gather evidence.
The train operations on the affected up-track have been halted after the crash. However, the down-track was restored nearly 18 hours after the accident and the departures of trains facing delays at different stations began.
Railways Inspector Ali Mohammad Afridi said that the up-track will be restored entirely in four to five hours.
The official said that a site inspection will be done on Monday, while the inquiry will be initiated in four to five days after recording statements of the related individuals.
Meanwhile, Minister for Railways and Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafique stated that the possibility of sabotage or a mechanical fault in the Hazara Express tragedy cannot be ruled out.
During the ongoing rescue operation at the site, the Karachi-bound Khyber Mail also encountered an accident near Bahawalpur. Half of its coaches got separated from the rest and the locomotive. The driver promptly stopped the train and, with staff assistance, reconnected the detached portion with the rest of the train, Dawn newspaper reported.
The official sources in the Pakistan Railways termed the derailment of the Havailian-bound Hazara Express as a result of the breaking of the railway line, and hot axle, which jammed movement.
“The possibility of sabotage, mechanical fault, or anything else cannot be ruled out,” Rafique was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
“But we cannot confirm it at the moment until we get something confirmed whether or not it happened due to a technical fault, sabotage, or accident,” he added.
The minister termed the railway track fit as having no engineering restriction (related to the speed limit, etc).
“The driver has stated that the speed, at the time of the derailment, was 50 kilometres per hour. We are checking this,” he said.
Railway accidents occur frequently in Pakistan due to outdated track maintenance systems, signal issues, technical equipment and old engines. Pakistan’s Railway system covers around 7,500 kilometres.
Sindh has seen the worst railway accidents with the worst train disaster taking place in 1990 near Sukkur when 307 people were killed.
Sunday’s accident came just a day after three coaches of Allama Iqbal Express – travelling from Karachi to Sialkot – derailed, but no one suffered injuries.
In April, seven people were killed when a fire broke out in a bogie of the Karachi Express travelling from Karachi to Lahore near Tando Masti Khan in the Khairpur district of the southern Sindh province.