Pakistan train crash: 3 killed, 40 injured

Pakistan on Monday investigated a derailment that flung part of a packed express train into a ravine, killing at least three people and injuring more than 40. Officials did not rule out sabotage. The Islamabad Express, with up to 600 people on board, went partly off the tracks around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday near the eastern village of Domeli. Several cars toppled off the track and one tumbled 100 meters (yards) to the bottom of a gorge.

Officials at the scene said the track had been damaged before the train passed on its run from Rawalpindi to Lahore. "We are looking into all possible aspects, but at this stage we cannot say that it was sabotage," Shamim Sadiqui, minister for communications and railways, told The Associated Press as he visited injured at a hospital in the nearby city of Jehlum.

He said three people were killed and more than 40 were injured in the crash, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Islamabad. Pakistan's Geo television reported that four were dead and 50 wounded. A rescue worker at the scene, Asif Mahood, also said four people had died.

Railway official Nasir Zaidi told state-run Pakistan Television that the track was intentionally damaged. An intelligence official at the scene of the crash told AP that the track was damaged before the train passed but it wasn't clear how. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media.

Salimur Rahman Akhund, general manager of operations with the state-run Pakistan Railways, said between 500 and 600 passengers may have been in the 10-car diesel train.

It was probably traveling about 60 kilometers per hour (37 mph) when it crashed, a normal speed for that location, said Arshad Khattak, the railway operator's chief engineer.

One survivor, Javed Butt, 30, said he was in the first car when he heard a bang, followed by a strong jolt. Butt's car remained upright and he was able to walk away from the accident.

"I heard screams and I'm sure there are lots of people injured, women and children," he said, adding he could not see the wreckage because of the dark.

Fearing major casualties, the military and civilian authorities rushed hundreds of troops and rescuers to the crash site, where they used flood lamps and generators to illuminate the wreckage and locate the injured.

Engineers were repairing the track Monday morning, and traffic on the line would be restored soon, said Athar Munir, a railway official. In July, Pakistan suffered its worst train crash in a decade when a train driver misinterpreted a signal and slammed into another train at a station near Ghotki, in southern Sindh province, killing more 130 people, reports the AP. I.L.

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