At least 20 people were killed and dozens others injured when a passenger train collided with a bus near Rohri railway station on Friday night, according to Sukkur Police AIG Dr Jamil Ahmed.
The police official told Dawn.com that the number of casualties was expected to rise as several of the injured were in critical condition.
The 45 Up Pakistan Express train was on its way to Rawalpindi from Karachi, when it collided with a passenger bus at an 'unmanned' railway crossing. The bus was en route to Punjab and was carrying 20 passengers.
"It was a very horrible accident [...] the bus was split into three parts," the AIG said, adding that the impact of the collision was such that the bus was dragged almost 150-200 feet by the train.
Meanwhile, Sukkur Commissioner Shafique Ahmed Mahesar said that the injured, who included women and children, had sustained severe injuries and had been taken to different hospitals in Rohri and Sukkur.
"It is a huge tragedy and all administration and police officials are rushing to the site," said the commissioner. "It was an unmanned railway crossing as nothing existed there to prevent any traffic," he added, while also expressing the fear that the death toll could rise.
Sukkur District Health Officer Dr Munir Mangrio confirmed that 13 bodies were sent to Rohri hospital, while the remaining were sent to Sukkur hospital. The deceased included five women and nine men.
Dr Mangrio added that 60 injured were also shifted to Sukkur hospital, while another 20 injured persons hadn't reported to any hospital so far.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took notice of the incident and directed the Sukkur commissioner to dispatch rescue teams to the area.
The CM also called for an emergency to be declared at all hospitals in Khairpur, and directed the authorities concerned to ensure ample medicines and blood for those injured in the incident.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also took notice of the incident and directed the provincial government to ensure the best medical facilities for those injured in the collision.
Meanwhile, the Railways ministry spokesperson said that Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed had expressed sorrow over the loss of lives, while also contending that the bus driver was apparently at fault in the incident.
The spokesperson said that the train's engine was damaged in the collision, while the assistant driver sustained injuries. He added that the passengers on the train remained safe.
He said that Pakistan Railways has 2,470 unmanned crossings, for which the ministry has written to provincial governments several times to depute personnel. He added that the federal government inspector of railways (FGIR) will investigate the incident.
Following the collision, the up-country track was closed for traffic. The down-country track was also expected to be impacted till the wreckage was removed from the track.