SARGODHA, Sept 20: Twenty-eight people were killed and 10 others injured when a Sargodha-bound train smashed into a bus at an unmanned level-crossing near Malikwal station, 60km from here, on Saturday.
The accident took place at 8.25am when the bus (FDB-8858) driver attempted to cross the level-crossing, disregarding the fast approaching 354-Dn train, which runs between Lalamusa and Sargodha.
Twenty people died on the spot. The bodies and the injured were taken out after cutting the wreckage of the bus which had been dragged quite a distance by the train, witnesses said.
According to Edhi sources, limbs were scattered over an area of one kilometre.
There were conflicting reports about the death-toll. The railways authorities put it at 26. An official at Malikwal railway station said he had counted 28 heads on the spot and added that some of the bodies had been mutilated beyond recognition. Edhi workers said the toll was 35.
A Pakistan Railways press release said the accident took place about 26km off Mandi Bahauddin and near Malikwal. The bus was on its way to Malikwal from Gojra.
“The accident reportedly occurred when the bus driver made a vain attempt in a hurry to get across before the approaching train. But he couldn’t make it, maybe, because of lack of speed,” the press release said.
The train remained on the track and those on board remained unhurt except for locomotive driver Abid Hussain and fireman Yaqoob who suffered injuries.
Twenty-six of the dead were identified as Munir, Bashir Ahmed (Gojra), Mohammad Khan, Mohammad Hayat, Mohammad Nawaz, Mehri, Malik Mohammad Rehan, Ghulam Rasool, Mohammad Iqbal, Zulfiqar Ahmed, Zubair, Sher Mohammad, Ashraf, Bashir Ahmed, Khalid Mehmood, Rasoolan Bibi, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Nawaz, son of Ghulam, Rashida Bibi, Pir Bakhsh, his daughter, Allah Bakhsh, Mukhtar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Amer and Zulfiqar.
One more body, which could not be identified, was lying at Civil Hospital Malikwal.
Seven of the injured were shifted to Mandi Bahauddin, Rawalpindi and Lahore because of their serious condition.
Twenty of the Edhi ambulances took part in the rescue work. Edhi Foundation was making arrangements for burying limbs and unidentified bodies, the Edhi sources said.
UNMANNED CROSSINGS: There are scores of unmanned crossings on the Lalamusa-Sargodha section where several accidents have occurred in the past. On the 22km-long Bhalwal-Sargodha section, there are 22 such crossings.
Traffic on the section remained suspended for three hours, delaying the operation of 27-Up, 245-Up 351-Up and 354-Dn.
APP adds: Pakistan Railways set up centres in five cities for providing information about the tragedy.
The centres and their telephone numbers are: Rawalpindi control office, 051-9270890/051-9270889; Sargodha railway station, 0541-9230305; Malikwal station, 0456-582117; Lalamusa station, 04348-511436; and Lahore central control office, 042-9201679, 042-9201692.