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Pakistan Train Cars Cut Open; Death Toll 125

March 04, 1997|From Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Rescue workers carved through the twisted wreckage of a train with blowtorches Monday, trying to reach scores of injured screaming for help. At least 125 people--including 24 children--died in the crash, hospital workers said.

At least 450 passengers were injured, 50 seriously, when the brakes failed on the express train and it derailed early Monday morning, Pakistan's state-run news agency said. The accident occurred in the eastern province of Punjab just outside Khanewal, 240 miles southwest of Islamabad, the capital.

"The scene is horrific," said worker Mohammed Zubair.

Residents of Khanewal--the first to arrive on the scene--pulled bodies from the overturned cars and covered the dead in white shrouds. Shops closed and hundreds of people went to local hospitals to donate blood.

Some railway cars rolled on top of others, making it difficult to reach the injured, but by evening the last of them were believed to have been freed.

The 17-car train, carrying 1,500 people, was en route from Peshawar in Pakistan's North West Frontier province to the Arabian Sea port of Karachi.

Rail officials said the train's brakes apparently failed when it tried to stop to make way for a second passenger train that was leaving Khanewal.

When the driver realized that the brakes had failed, he pulled onto a track for runaway trains. The train slammed into a pile of sand at the end of the track.

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