At least 20 people have been killed and 60 others were injured when two trains carrying hundreds of passengers collided in the Pakistani city of Karachi, Sky News reports. Horrified witnesses described how one train sped into Quaidabad station and rammed into another train which was stationary at the platform in the early hours of Thursday.
Rescuers are using metal-cutting equipment and heavy cranes to try and reach passengers trapped inside the mangled wreckage. Officials say up to 1,000 people were on board the two trains when the accident happened. Three women and two children are among the dead, and it is feared many more may have been killed or hurt.
Police official Mukhtar Shah said: “We’re hearing cries, people shouting for help from the wreck.” Factory worker Ajab Gul was on his way to work when he said “suddenly another train came speeding in and smashed into the parked train”, describing the sound of the crash as “huge”.
“There were clouds of dust and smog. After that we heard screams. People inside the collided trains were screaming and crying.” People nearby rushed to help, he said, and he helped pull 17 people out of the wreckage, including women and children.
He added that there were many other people trapped inside who they could not reach. All trains out of Karachi have been suspended. “At the moment, we don’t know the exact number of casualties but there could be up to 1,000 passengers in both trains,” said Nasir Nazeer, district coordination officer in Karachi.
“We have sent heavy machinery and cutting equipment to remove the overturned cars from the track and rescue the trapped passengers inside the coaches.” The crash happened when the incoming Zakria Express from the city of Multan rammed into the Fareed Express, from Lahore, as it waited at the station in the Landi neighbourhood of Karachi.
Mr Nazeer said it was likely that the driver of the moving train ignored a signal, adding an investigation is under way. Thousands of miles of track in Pakistan remain from the days when Britain was the colonial power and train crashes are common.
Decades of corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment have seen the railways decline. In February the Fareed Express hit a van at a crossing in southern Pakistan, killing eight people from the same family.
Often accidents happen at unmanned crossings, which can lack barriers and sometimes even signals. In September four people were killed and more than 100 injured when two trains collided near the central city of Multan.
On that occasion the Karachi-bound Awam Express passenger train hit a goods train that had stopped after running over a man.