Train plunges into gorge near Jhelum
Daily Times: January 30, 2006
By Mubasher Bukhari
LAHORE: Six bogies of a Lahore-bound train derailed near Domeli village, Jhelum, on Sunday evening and plunged into a 15-metre-deep gorge. Several passengers are feared dead and many more injured.
Gen Sultan says four killed and 40 injured - More deaths and injuries expected - No independent verification of casualties - Nightfall impeding rescue work - Emergency declared in Jehlum, Rawalpindi, Kharian, Gujrat hospitals
Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan, Pakistan Army spokesman, said four people were killed and up to 40 were injured in the accident. He also said more deaths and injuries were expected. Officials said the rest of the passengers had been rescued.
Islamabad Express 108-Down left Rawalpindi for Lahore with about 600 passengers at about 6:00pm. Six of the train's nine bogies got derailed and plunged into a 15-metre-deep gorge near Domeli village at about 7:15pm. Only the train's engine and two other bogies were left on the railway track.
There has been no independent verification of the number of casualties.
Gen Sultan said the death toll was much less than first expected, but Minister of State for Railways Ishaq Khan Khakwani, Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao and Railways officials said otherwise.
"Four passengers including two women were killed and about 30 to 40 were injured while the rest of the passengers were rescued," Gen Sultan said.
Ishaq Khakwani said an investigation had been ordered into the incident. He said high speed could have caused the derailment. However, aid workers at the scene told Daily Times that a section of the track was missing while pieces of broken track were all over.
"Pakistan Army personnel from Rawalpindi and Jhelum had to walk for three and a half kilometres to get to the scene of the crash because the terrain was not vehicle friendly," Gen Sultan said.
Sherpao said the dark was creating trouble for the rescue workers, but the soldiers were installing generators and searchlights to make the search and rescue operation easy.
Emergency was declared in all hospitals in Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Kharian and Gujrat. The injured were immediately taken to the Jhelum District Headquarter Hospital (DHQ). Some of the seriously injured passengers were then taken to Rawalpindi. "At least 20 of the injured were brought here in critical condition," said a doctor on duty at Jhelum DHQ.
Railways authorities have set up special inquiry counters at Rawalpindi and Lahore for relatives of the passengers travelling in the train.
Railway traffic between Lala Musa and Rawalpindi will remain shut for the next several hours till the damaged track is repaired and the bogies are removed. Special trains from Lahore and Rawalpindi have also been dispatched to the scene to transport passengers not injured in the accident.
Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi also ordered seven Rescue 1122 ambulances to the scene.
"We heard weird noises under our bogie just before the accident after which the carriages ahead of our bogie got derailed and fell into the gorge," said Qaiser, a passenger.
Pakistan Railways has set up a help line to provide information about the dead and injured. The numbers are: 051-9270884, 051-9270981 and 051-5810329.