KARACHI: More than half a dozen coaches of Lahore-bound Shalimar Express overturned and derailed on Tuesday night when a bomb planted along railway tracks about 20km east of Karachi went off, leaving a minor girl dead and at least 23 passengers injured, officials and witnesses said.
The blast forced the authorities to announce closure of the tracks and suspension of railway traffic. The departure of at least two trains scheduled to leave Karachi’s Cantonment Station with hundreds of passengers had to be cancelled.
Rescue efforts were delayed because the incident took place in a deserted area near Ghaghar Phattak.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Munir Shaikh, who led police and rescue teams at the blast site, told Dawn that three coaches had been overturned and four derailed, causing injuries to about 23 passengers, including women and children. He said the condition of two passengers was stated to be serious.
All the people trapped inside the coaches had been retrieved, he added. Police said a six-year-old girl, identified as Mahnoor, died in a hospital in Thatta district where some of the injured had been taken for treatment.
“We have received 14 wounded people, including six women,” said Dr Seemin Jamali, head of the JPMC’s emergency department. Six of them were discharged after treatment.
Engine driver Zaheer Ahmad and his assistant Rasheed Ahmed were among the injured.
The chief of the Bomb Disposal Squad, Karachi, told Dawn that four kilograms of high explosives were used in the blast which destroyed 60 metres of tracks.
DIG Shaikh said the motive behind the blast was yet to be ascertained. He said railway tracks had been targeted in the past as well but such incidents used to take place during strikes, etc.
Amjad Pervez, a passenger, told Dawn that he felt a sudden jerk at about 8.10pm and his son fell down. According to him, three to four coaches were overturned and passengers trapped in them.