DERA GHAZI KHAN: Thirty-four people were killed and another 41 injured when a bus collided head-on with a tractor-trolley near Jhoke Yar Shah, Taunsa bypass, on the Indus Highway.
The fast-moving bus en route to Rajanpur from Sialkot, carrying at least 70 labourers going to celebrate Eidul Azha with their families, rammed into the Peshawar-bound trolley at around 5:30am.
Immediately after the accident, locals and Rescue 1122 personnel reached the scene of accident and initiated a rescue operation.
The injured, including a woman and a child, and the bodies were shifted to a nearby hospital, while an state of emergency was declared at all health facilities of the area.
Rescuers had to slice through the damaged bus and use a crane to retrieve the bodies. Law enforcers also found several toys in the luggage of the passengers. Commissioner Dr Irshad Ahmed, medical college Principal Dr Asif and Regional Emergency Officer Dr Natiq Hayat supervised the rescue operation.
Ten of the injured were said to be in critical condition and the death toll was feared to rise. Most of the victims were aged between 20 and 23 and included five members of the same family.
SSP (Investigation) Ahmed Hassan told this correspondent that a first information report into the accident would be registered with the state as the complainant.
According to electronic media reports, the bus driver attempted to overtake the trolley when he lost control over the vehicle. It was also reported that 26 of the bodies had been identified and sent to their native villages for burial.
Police and rescue sources claimed that the bus was carrying passengers beyond its capacity as some were sitting on the roof also.
A Rescue 1122 official report available with Dawn said the accident had been caused due to over speeding.
SP (Investigation) Hasan Javed Bhatti told Dawn that 27 passengers were found dead on the spot and 63 others were injured. He said six more passengers died during treatment, while the remaining were stable.
Quoting the trolley driver, who had been taken into custody for investigation, Bhatti said the bus driver, who was also among the victims, was probably sleeping as the bus moved from its lane and collided with the container.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident and extended condolences to the bereaved families. He sought a report from the commissioner and regional police officer and directed that best treatment be provided to the injured. He demanded legal action against those responsible.
He also directed the Chief Minister’s Inspection Team to conduct a comprehensive investigation to identify the causes of the accident and submit a report to his office within three days. The inquiry report should glean facts and fix responsibility, he directed.
Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted that the drivers of public transport vehicles were responsible for the lives of people and they needed to be careful. “When will we as a nation realise that the violation of traffic rules can prove fatal?”
Special Assistant to the Punjab Chief Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan also tweeted that Mr Buzdar was supervising all the matters himself and has sought a report about the accident. “Those responsible for the negligence will be brought to justice,” she added.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif also tweeted condolence messages for the bereaved families and prayed for speedy recovery of the injured.
Imran Gabol contributed to this report from Lahore
Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2021