SUKKUR: At least 59 people were killed while 18 others sustained injuries when a passenger bus collided head-on with a goods truck near Khairpur, Express News reported.
The passenger bus was en route to Karachi from Swat when it collided with the truck on Theri Bypass.
The dead included 17 women and 18 children. The injured were shifted to Khairpur civil hospital for medical assistance. A senior doctor at the hospital said the condition of three of the injured was critical.
According to eyewitnesses and Edhi sources, the driver of the bus dozed off as his vehicle hit the truck.
“The accident was so severe that all of them died at the spot, except for one child who died undergoing treatment in hospital,” Doctor Jaffer Soomro told AFP by phone from Khairpur Civil Hospital.
“I have never seen a road accident of such a horrible magnitude.”
The details of Tuesday’s crash are still not entirely clear. Initial reports said the two vehicles collided head on, but later police said the bus hit the stationary truck after pulling out from a fuel stop.
After visiting the site of the accident along with Khairpur SSP Motorway and MNA Dr Nafisa Shah, AD Khawaja the Motorway police chief of Sindh, held the National Highway Authority responsible for the accident.
Khawaja told AFP the poor condition of the road may have been a factor, as well as bad driving.
“There was a deep ditch on the road which we call ‘rutting’ some 30 to 40 yards before the place where the bus hit the truck,” he said.
“We have learned that the bus went out of control after it hit the rutting and it landed on the opposite side of the road and then hit the truck which was coming from Karachi.”
A section of the National Highway, which the above bypass is connected to, has been under construction for the past five years while the other side is also partially damaged.
Senior police officer Faisal Chachar, who is in charge of the stretch of highway where the accident happened, said that not long before it, the bus driver had been fined for overloading his vehicle and forced to set down four passengers.
He said the bus and the truck had both been travelling at around 80 to 90 kilometres per hour when they collided.
“We had to call mechanical cranes and cutters to separate the bus and trucks and the bus was compressed completely,” Chachar said.
President Mamnoon Hussain and Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad expressed sorrow over the loss and ordered an inquiry into the incident.
The country has an appalling record of fatal traffic accidents due to poor roads, badly-maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
The emergency services’ recovery equipment is basic and when crashes happen away from major towns, as they often do, rescue efforts can take some time, reducing injured passengers’ chances of survival.
In April a bus smashed into a tractor-trailer in a high speed collision in Sindh, killing 42 people, while in March a horrific crash between two buses and a petrol tanker left 35 dead, with many burned alive when the fuel ignited.
The mountainous areas of Kashmir and the north, where drivers career around narrow hairpin bends over deep ravines with scant regard for safety, are particularly prone to accidents.
Three crashes in the space of 10 days in March in Kashmir and the northwest left a total of 46 people dead.