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Tragedy at Panipat

February 20, 2007

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DEWANA (India), Feb 19: Some details of the tragedy that struck the train bound for the border post of Attari on Monday night.

• There were 757 passengers aboard the train, including 553 Pakistanis, constituting the bulk of the casualties.

• According to Indian officials, the dead included 26 men, 14 women, 13 children and 15 bodies charred beyond physical recognition.

• Local authorities have sought help from the Military Centre in Ambala to embalm unidentified bodies to preserve them for some time, enabling their identification, said N.C. Wadhwa, Commissioner, Rohtak Range.

• Ten Pakistanis and two Indians, including a one-year-old baby, were fighting for their lives in New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital.

• The train was travelling at about 90-100km/h when it was ordered to stop.

• Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz announced that $8,250 would be paid as compensation to the families of the dead while the injured passengers would receive $1,650 each.

• Pakistan Railway Minister Shaikh Rashid urged Indian authorities to stop the practice of ‘caging’ the train’s passengers in locked and barred bogies and blamed it for all the casualties.

• Indian Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav announced Rs1 million compensation for next of kin of each deceased. He also promised a job for every Indian killed and Rs50,000 for each of the in-jured.

• The following are some Indian helpline numbers: 1) 011-23341074, 23342954, 011-23389319, 23389853 and 23385106; 011-24355954; 0171-2610329, 2611072; 0183-2223171, 2564485; 0161-2760006; 0181-2223504; 0180-3297823, 6450342.

• The Indian High Commission in Islamabad has advised the relatives to approach the mission for inquiries and assistance. Contact phone numbers are: 051-2828378, 051-2828377, 051-2206950-4.—Agencies