Pakistan: Death toll climbs after passenger train derails
Pakistan's railway minister said authorities would also look into possible sabotage as a reason for the deadly incident
At least 30 people were killed and 90 others injured when a train derailed in Pakistan's southern Sindh province, officials said Sunday.
The train, the Hazara Express, was on its way from Pakistan's largest city Karachi to the city of Rawalpindi when the derailment happened.
Some 10 railway cars derailed near the Sahara railway station in the city of Nawabshah, roughly 275 km (171 miles) from Karachi.
Pakistan Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said the train had apparently not been traveling at a fast pace and that an inquiry had been ordered into the cause of the accident. Apparently, the speed of the train at the time of the accident was about 45 kilometers (roughly 28 miles) per hour.
"There can be two reasons: first that it was a mechanical fault, or the fault was created," Rafique said. "It might be a sabotage. We will investigate it."
Local media said dozens of passengers were still trapped in the carriages immediately after the accident. Footage showed people smashing windows to help others escape the wrecked carriages.
Rafique told reporters that local hospitals were in a state of emergency as dozens of ambulances and private vehicles shuttled the injured to emergency rooms.
Later on Sunday, police announced that rescue operations had been completed, the last overturned railcars righted, and the most seriously injured victims airlifted to distant hospitals.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who was at a political gathering in Punjab, said "We all pray, may Allah grant a place in heaven to those who passed away and I wish quick recovery for the injured."
The Hazara Express is a daily passenger train from Karachi in the south across most of the length of Pakistan to Havelian in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It takes about 33 hours to cover the journey, some 1,600 kilometers northward.
Train crashes are common on Pakistan's poorly-maintained railways tracks, which have antiquated signaling systems and colonial-era communications.
Pakistan's successive governments have spent years trying to secure funds to upgrade the rail network as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative for infrastructure projects.