Shalimar Express wreck: Death toll from train crash rises to three

Railways gatekeeper booked; authorities still clearing debris

People go through papers found at the wreck site to determine identities of the victims. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ

LAHORE: The death toll has risen to three from a train accident on Monday night when the Shalimar Express rammed into an oil tanker.

On Tuesday, teams of the Pakistan Railways were busy clearing the track of debris as they removed the bogeys and the engine. Others were repairing the damaged portion of the track till the filing of this report.

The train had left Lahore Railway Station at around 11:20 pm for Karachi. As it reached Nabipura Phattak on Hafizabad-Sheikhpura Road near Hiran Minar, it slammed into an oil tanker which was stuck on the track as its axle had broken. The tanker driver said his vehicle ran into trouble as soon as it crossed the tracks. The driver and locals were trying to remove the tanker when the train approached at around 12:20am and collided with it.

The collision was followed by huge flames when the train derailed as fire engulfed its engine and compartments.  Locals heard of the accident on television and rushed to the site to start their own rescue operation. Passengers were offloaded from the train, while the injured were taken to the nearby hospital.

Rescue teams of nearby districts such as Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad also rushed to the scene.

The injured victims suffered various wounds, including burn injuries. One of the victims with severe burn injuries was pronounced dead on arrival. He was later identified as Abdul Hameed, the driver of the train. Assistant driver Muhammad Latif also succumbed to injuries in hospital in Sheikhupura and another victim died at the Mayo Hospital in Lahore.

While rescue teams were busy controlling fire on the track, the Pakistan Railways and district administration shifted stranded passengers to the Lahore Railway Station from where they were transported to Karachi on a special train.

Meanwhile, the funeral prayers of driver of train Muhammad Latif and Assistant driver Abdul Hameed were offered at the Garhi Shahu railway engine sheds. A huge number of family members, relatives, neighbours and railway employees were present.

The government authorities announced Rs6.2 million as a relief package for the family of the driver and Rs5.9 million rupees for the heirs of the assistant driver.  Both families will also get a plot worth Rs5 million.

As far investigations and action over the incident is concerned, an FIR was registered under sections 109, 129 and 427 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The gatekeeper was nominated in the case.

Police had taken the gatekeeper of the tracks and the driver of the oil tanker into custody. The latter told police that he was crossing the track when the axle broke and he was trying to remove the truck when the train crashed into it.

The gatekeeper, meanwhile, told the media that he had conveyed a message about the stricken oil tanker in time to the cable man. The railway stations master told media that the train had already left when he came to know about the oil tanker. The railway administration and police are investigating the matter further.

A report submitted to the senate by the Pakistan Railways showed that over 300 accidents had occurred since 2013 in which over 100 people lost lives and 400 were injured. In 184 of the accidents, the train was derailed, while 34 caught fire. A total of 66 accidents occurred at railway crossings.

On January 6, seven students were killed when a train hit a rickshaw at a crossing in Lodhran. On January 22, five members of a family died at a crossing in Gojra.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2017.


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