The death toll in a collision between two trains has surged to 62 with more than 100 injuries. The authorities in Sukkur confirmed on Tuesday the death of 62 passengers of the Millat Express and Sir Syed Express.
Soon after the crash, prime minister Imran Khan ordered an inquiry into it and sought the report within 24 hours.
One of the joints of the right track was broken, according to the inspection team. It had been welded. The Millat Express carriages derailed because of the broken joint and fell onto the lower track, it said.
The Karachi-bound Sir Syed Express arrived minutes later and smashed into the derailed coaches of Millat Express, the team said in its report. As a result, the engine and four coaches of Sir Syed Express were derailed too. The initial inquiry report has been forwarded to Railways Minister Azam Swati.
The Ghotki train accident happened due to a broken joint of one of the tracks, the initial inquiry report suggests.
But these reports and news story do not capture what the experience was for those passengers on these trains.
The train was heading north from Karachi to Lala Musa with around 600 passengers aboard when it derailed at 3:30am in the first part of a 25-hour-long journey that was to cover 1,300 kilometres.
At this time Norman Riaz was lying on his bunk bed aboard the Millat Express and playing with his mobile phone as it sped through the countryside just before the deadly catastrophe early on Monday.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Riaz said.
Those in his cabin survived the derailment relatively unscathed, but just minutes later his world was turned upside down. “We fell down but there were no injuries as such,” he said.
“But when the train hit us, everything turned topsy-turvy. My mother died in front of my eyes, everybody died.”
The Sir Syed Express, coming towards Karachi from Rawalpindi, ploughed into the derailed train at speed, slicing through metal carriages. At least 55 people were killed and over 100 injured — most of them from the Millat.
“We tumbled upon each other, but that was not so fatal,” Millat passenger Akhtar Rajput told AFP. “Then another train hit us from nowhere, and that hit us harder. When I regained my senses, I saw passengers lying around me, some were trying to get out of the coach.”
“I was disoriented and trying to figure out what happened to us when the other train hit,” Shahid, another passenger, told AFP.
I could see only green lights as I trundled along the track, said the driver of the Sir Syed Express.
“But when I crossed the signal and sped up then I saw few people signalling me (to stop),” Iftikhar Thaheem told local media. “I pulled the emergency brake, but it was too late,” he said, his head swathed in bandages and uniform covered in blood.
Local farmers and villagers reach the scene and helped move the wreckage, as army and civil engineers led a mass effort to clear and repair the tracks.
Throughout the day, the injured had been ferried by ambulances and private vehicles to nearby clinics and hospitals.
“The dead were lined up next to the tracks, covered in sheets and blankets,” described an eyewitness.