QUETTA, Sept 26: At least seven people were killed and 57 injured when eight bogies of Quetta Express derailed as a railway bridge on Sibi-Jacobabad section collapsed on Thursday morning.
The Quetta-bound Quetta Express coming from Rawalpindi met with the disaster, some 200km east of here at 10.05am, suspending the train service with the rest of the country.
Fifty-seven injured, including women and children, were admitted to the Government Hospital, Sibi. The medical officer of the hospital, Dr Ghous Bakhsh Barozai, confirmed that 12 of injured were in serious condition.
The exact point of the accident was the Railway bridge No 130-B. The 200-ft-long bridge, located between Dambuli and Dinghra, was built by the English over a century ago on a storm river allowing the flow of hill torrents and floods during rains.
The Pakistan Railways authorities said sabotage activity could not be ruled out, however, the probe had been ordered into the accident.
The Chief Controller of Quetta Railway Division, Jalilur Rehman, confirmed that 57 persons had been injured out which 47 had been hospitalized at Sibi. “Those injured seriously are being shifted to Quetta and other hospitals for specialized treatment,” he added. Others with minor injuries have been discharged.
Rescue and relief operation started as four relief trains have been rushed to the spot from Sukkur and Quetta and for restoring the railway track.
More than a dozen ambulance vehicles of the provincial health department and Edhi Welfare Centre rushed to the spot. Residents of the nearby villages and notables also helped the injured in reaching them to hospitals. A number of government agencies, personnel of Pakistan army also reached the spot and helped the Railway officials in relief work. Some injured were taken out by cutting the twisted metals.
According to eyewitnesses, the accident occurred when the main diesel engine and a passenger bogie passed the bridge which collapsed and bogie fell down in the nullah followed by seven other bogies.
“Six pillars of the Railway bridge collapsed causing the disaster,” a senior official of the Sibi administration told Dawnover telephone. Chaos and confusion gripped the scene of accident and the passengers were screaming for help.
The Chief Controller of Pakistan Railways, Jalilur Rehman, said the train service had been suspended. which could remain suspended for at least two days as trains are operating on a single track. “It will take reasonable time to clear the track. The Railways may build a diversion from the collapsed bridge,” Mr Jalil said.
Pointing out to the cause of the accident, he said the bridge collapse was the apparent reason for the accident. However, he said, Chairman of Pakistan Railways has ordered an inquiry.
In the meantime, the hospital sources have identified seven persons who lost their lives. They are: Syed Gul son of Sardar Allah Gul of Saranan; Abdul Malik son of Meharban Khan and Abdul Rehman son of Meharban Khan of Naushki; Mohammad Zaffar son of Ahmed Khan of Dhaddar; Iftikhar son of Nazir Ahmed of Sialkot; Haji Allah Ditta and Abdul Qayyum.
The body of Iftikhar was taken away by his relatives to Sialkot who were travelling with him in the same train. The bodies of others were in Civil Hospital, Sibi.