Death toll from Pakistan train crash officially lowered to 40

Friday, December 21, 2007

The official death toll for a recent derailment in Pakistan has been lowered from 58 deaths to 40. The Karachi Express from Karachi to Lahore left the rails at high speed in Sindh province.

At least 115 passengers were injured in the crash, of which ten remain in hospital. Most of them were returning from the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha.

Fourteen of the sixteen cars that comprised the service were derailed. The force of the accident, which occurred near Mehrabpur, about 250 miles from Karachi, was such that two were completely destroyed and the rails were severely damaged.

Junaid Qureshi, director of operations at state owned Pakistan Railways, who operate the service, said that the official figures are now 40 dead and 269 injured. Most of the casualties were in the two carriages that were destroyed. "The position now is that there are 40 dead," Qureshi told reporters, adding that the original figure appeared sourceless. "I do not know where they (the officials) got it from."

He went on to say that of the 40 deceased, 39 bodies had been returned to families, whilst one body remained unidentified and is currently awaiting being claimed at a morgue in Karachi.

However, there are still conflicting reports about the number of casualties. Representatives of the Edhi Foundation, Pakistan's largest private emergency service provider, which attended the scene, said that the foundation had removed 45 bodies from the wreckage, while Mohammed Shafi Toor, head of the state-owned hospital at Mehrabpur, put the figures at 46 dead and 290 injured.

Meanwhile, an official inquiry has been launched. "The inquiry is underway and will be completed within the next five days," said Pakistan Railways Secretary Ghiasuddin, continuing to say that the panel conducting the investigation will make recommendations as a result of it's findings. It is believed the track failed due to extremely low temperatures.

Officials have re-opened the line having repaired the damaged section.


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