Hazara Express Toll Rises As Army Joins Rescue Efforts

Hazara Express Toll Rises As Army Joins Rescue Efforts
The death toll from the derailed bogies of Hazara Express rose to 34 as the army, and Rangers joined the rescue efforts.

At least ten bogies of the Havelian-bound Hazara Express had derailed near Sarhari Railway Station in the Sanghar district on Sunday afternoon. As a result, at least 34 people were killed, and over 100 were wounded. The incident occurred hours after another train, Allama Iqbal Express heading towards Sialkot, saw a couple of its bogies get derailed on Saturday, but there were no casualties in that incident.

The dead and injured were shifted to the Peoples Medical College Hospital in Nawabshah and other nearby hospitals.

Army joins rescue efforts

Rescue teams were dispatched to the site, while troops from the Army and the paramilitary Rangers also arrived to join the rescue efforts.

The troops arrived after Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir issued special instructions.

The military personnel reached the site carrying food and other relief items for survivors.

An additional contingent of troops was sought from Hyderabad and Sakrand. Army Aviation's helicopters were also deployed to evacuate the critically injured.

Meanwhile, the Rangers' officials told the media that paramilitary force personnel were dispatched for rescue work as per Sindh Rangers Director General (DG) Major General Azhar Waqas.

Casualties could rise

A local official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that 21 bodies were shifted to Nawabshah while 13 were taken to the Rural Health Centre in Sarhari.

He feared that casualties could rise further since some of the injured passengers were in critical condition and could not survive. At least 23 of those injured were in critical condition and were admitted either to the surgical unit at the Peoples Medical College Hospital in Nawabshah or at the Surgical Intensive Care Unit.

Providing treatment

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah also arrived in Nawabshah and visited the injured admitted to the Peoples Medical Hospital to enquire about their health.

He said that the best available healthcare was being provided to the injured. He also announced Rs1 million as compensation for the families of each victim.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, taking notice of the tragic accident, directed the officials to shift the injured to hospitals so that the injured could be provided with quality treatment.

Shaheed Benazirabad Division Commissioner Ghulam Abbas Baloch said that a relief train had been sought to evacuate the survivors, while all hospitals in the division have been put on alert to assist the injured.

Benazirabad Deputy Inspector General of Police Mohammad Younis Chandio said that nine of the ten wrecked bogies had been cleared, with the injured and deceased being pulled out.

He said they required heavy machinery to reach and evacuate the last remaining bogie.

The cause for the train's derailment was unknown until this story was filed.

Train operations suspended

The flow of train traffic between Karachi and Sukkur, and thus with the north of the country, has been suspended due to the derailed train and damaged track affecting the routine of thousands of travellers.

Railway authorities said restoring train operations may take up to 18 hours.

Authorities fear that crash could have been caused because the bodies were overloaded. The train comprised 17 bogies and could carry 950 passengers in its economy class and 72 in its air-conditioned standard coach.

Railway officials said they have already ordered the relevant investigators to head to the site to investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Railways said that they hope to clear the main line by Monday afternoon.


Meanwhile, addressing a news conference in Lahore on Sunday, Federal Minister for Railways and Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafique suggested someone could have "deliberately" caused the accident, or a mechanical fault could have caused it.

"First, we will provide relief and then investigate. Emergency has been imposed in hospitals in Sukkur," the federal minister said.

The author is a practicing lawyer and freelance journalist. His areas of interest are cultural diversity and socio-political issues of Sindh.