SHEIKHUPURA: At least 20 members of Sikh community and a bus driver were killed while six injured when their vehicle was hit by a passenger train in Sheikhupura district on Friday.
The accident took place as the Lahore-bound train, travelling from Karachi, crashed into a mini-bus at an unmanned level crossing between Farooqabad and Bahalekay, Pakistan Railways said in a statement.
The Sikhs were en route to Peshawar in the northwest after attending a 40th-day ritual of a member of their community who had passed away due to Covid-19 infection in Nankana Sahib, a city in eastern Punjab, named after Guru Nanak, the first Guru of the Sikhs. “Ragbeer Singh had passed away 40 days ago after being tested positive for coronavirus. The slain Sikhs were returning to Peshawar after attending his 40th-day ritual,” Amreek Singh, a senior member of the Sikh community, told DLP. He said that all dead and injured were living in Mohallah Jogan Shah, a Sikh locality inside Peshawar’s walled city.
Amreek Singh blamed the bus driver for the accident, saying he had tried to take a shortcut instead of waiting at the crossing, which resulted in the crash.
Soon after the accident, rescue officials from Railways and Rescue 1122 arrived at the scene and provided first aid to the injured. The railway track was blocked after the crash for an hour and 15 minutes.
All the injured were shifted to district headquarters hospital in Sheikhupura and the dead were taken to Mayo Hospital in Lahore. Singh described condition of one hospitalized female kid as critical.
Following the crash, the divisional engineer was suspended by the railways management while Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid directed authorities to take immediate action against those responsible for the accident.
Prime Minister Imran Khan offered his condolences to the families of the victims.
“I have directed relevant authorities to ensure facilitation and care for all the families. Our entire railway’s operational safety SOPs will be reviewed immediately,” he posted on Twitter.
President Dr Arif Alvi also expressed grief over the loss of lives, urging the officials to provide best facilities to the victims.
Pakistan has a long history of train accidents mainly because of poor infrastructure and lack of safety standards.
In February, at least 20 people were killed when a train collided with a bus near Rohri in Sindh.
In October 2019, 74 passengers were killed, with 90 per cent of them burnt alive, and over 40 injured when three coaches of the Rawalpindi-bound train caught fire. Ends