At least 40 people have been killed and more than 120 injured after a train collision near the southern Pakistani town of Dharki, officials say, with rescue work still under way to find survivors trapped in the debris.
The collision took place early on Monday morning near the town of Dharki, about 440km (273 miles) north of Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi, officials say.
Senior Daharki police officer Umar Tufail said 40 people were killed.
The death toll was likely to rise as rescuers struggled to reach people trapped in several mangled compartments strewn across the tracks.
“One coach is under the engine, and we can see three bodies trapped inside,” he told AFP news agency.
“Two other bodies have been reported elsewhere too, so we fear that the death toll will rise,” Tufail added.
Television footage from the site of the crash showed the mangled wreckage of the two trains strewn across the track, with rescuers using cranes and other equipment to try and reach those trapped inside.
The accident took place when eight compartments of the northbound Millat Express train derailed near Dharki, local official Razzaq Minhas told Al Jazeera. The southbound Sir Syed Express passenger train then hit the derailed compartments, he said.
“Rescuers are still trying to get into at least two crashed bogeys, they are still removing the debris,” he said. “Equipment and paramilitary forces are there to remove the debris.”
Shocked by the horrific train accident at Ghotki early this morning leaving 30 passengers dead. Have asked Railway Minister to reach site & ensure medical assistance to injured & support for families of the dead. Ordering comprehensive investigation into railway safety faultlines
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) June 7, 2021
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked” by the crash, and ordered Railways Minister Azam Swati to reach the site of the accident on Monday.
“Have asked railway minister to reach site and ensure medical assistance to injured and support for families of the dead,” he tweeted. “Ordering comprehensive investigation into railway safety faultlines.”
The Pakistani military said it had dispatched rescue helicopters, ambulances and specialized search and rescue crews to the site of the crash.
“Engineer resources moved to carry out necessary relief and rescue work,” said a military statement. “Army special Engineer Team [for] Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) being heli-lifted from Rawalpindi to incident site to speed up relief and rescue efforts.”
Pakistan’s aging railway system has seen numerous accidents and crashes in recent years, with successive governments investing little in maintaining the tracks and signal systems.
In 2019, at least 73 people were killed after a gas canister blast and fire on board an overcrowded passenger train near the town of Liaquatpur.