Fourteen people, including Pakistan Army officials, were killed and more than 80 others injured on Thursday when four carriages of a freight train fell into a canal upon the collapse of a railway bridge near Gujranwala.
All the victims were either servicemen or belonged to military families.
Among the victims were Pakistan Army Engineering Battalion Unit Commander Lt-Col Amir Jadoon, his wife and two children, the spouse of Major Adil, Capt Kashif, Lt Abbas, CO Aamir, the GD commander’s son and daughter, Sub-Major Aslam, train driver Muhammad Riaz. More than 100 people, including intelligence officials, were successfully rescued.
The train was carrying an army contingent from Pano Aqil to Kharian when the tragic accident took place at the colonial-era built Chanawan Bridge.
When the bridge collapsed, the train’s engine and the four passenger carriages plunged into the canal.
Special army troops, divers and rescue workers rushed to the site of the accident. Initially, the volunteers managed to rescue dozens of people from the bogies that had fallen into the canal.
Pak Aviation officials also took part in the operation with their helicopters and boats. The fasting rescuers worked tirelessly under the scorching sun.
Gujranwala Corps Commander Gen Ghayur Mehmood, Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Punjab Home Minister Col (retd) Shuja Khanzada, Adviser Health Khawaja Salman Rafiq, Commissioner Shumail Ahmed Khawaja, DCO Azmat Mehmood, RPO Faisal Shahkar, CPO Waqas Nazir, IG Railways Muhammad Munir and officers of the irrigation and other departments also arrived on the scene after the incident. EDO Health Dr Saeedullah Khan brought along paramedical teams to provide first aid.
The train engine and two wagons were fully submerged, hindering the operation.
The irrigation department, on the instructions of the district administration, closed the inflow of the water from the headworks to accelerate the search for the victims trapped in the submerged carriages and those who had drowned after escaping the bogies.
Some 500 passengers were aboard the train, including many women and children, according to unconfirmed reports. Emergency was declared at Alipur Chatha Hospital, THQ Civil Hospital Wazirabad, Rasool Nagar Hospital, Combined Military Hospital Gujranwala Cantonment and Civil Hospital Gujranwala.
Lt-Col Amir Jadoon, his wife and two children will be laid to rest in their ancestral graveyard in Mohalla Shoaibzai in Abbottabad’s Nawanshehr town at 2:30pm on Friday (today), family sources told The Express Tribune. Jadoon was transferred from Pano Aqil to Kharian and was travelling with his wife and their son and daughter.
Jadoon was the eldest among five siblings. Two of his brothers are serving majors in the army while another one is an officer in the Pakistan Air Force. Their sister lives in the US.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2015.
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