Pakistan probes deaths after passengers on train roof hit by overhead power line

Important lessons can be learned from the deaths of 11 people killed when a power line ripped them from the top of a moving train, authorities said Monday.

The dead and injured were sitting atop the train when they received electric shocks or were thrown to the ground by the high-voltage line.

The accident, which also hurt more than 40 people, occurred Sunday evening near the town of Sukkur, about 360 kilometers (220 miles) northeast of Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province.

The diesel-powered passenger train was packed with Shiite Muslims traveling to the town of Rohri, near Sukkur, to attend a Shiite Islamic religious gathering. Those unable to squeeze inside had clambered onto the roof, officials said.

Sukkur police chief Zafar Farooqi said investigators would try to draw lessons from the accident.

"The inquiry will suggest how to better manage the crowd of passengers at special occasions such as Muharram and Eid in the future," Farooqi said, referring to two major Muslim festivals that usually see a surge in train passengers.

He said some of those sitting on the roof were carrying religious flags and other symbols that got tangled in the electricity line as they passed underneath it, electrocuting and throwing people from the train.

The probe will also examine why railroad officials didn't stop people from climbing atop the carriages, Farooqi said.

Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said 11 people died, though a spokesman for the Sindh provincial government said the bodies of 10 people were taken to hospitals in Sukkur and the nearby town of Shikarpur. It was not clear why their death tallies differed, reports AP.

Shiite Muslims gather every year at a mosque in Rohri in connection with the festival of Ashoura, in which Shiites express mourn the death of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Islam's prophet Muhammad, officials said.

The final day of Ashoura is on Tuesday, when Shiite stage processions carrying religious flags and other symbols and beat their chests in a sign of grief.

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