12 Pakistan soldiers killed as train falls into canal
Lahore: At least 12 soldiers, including the commander of an army unit, were killed today when four bogies of a special train carrying troops and military hardware fell into a canal due to a bridge collapse in Pakistan’s Punjab Province with the railways minister not ruling out sabotage.
Four bogies of the train fell into the canal near Gujranwala after a section of the Head Chanawa bridge collapsed while the train was passing by the area. The train was en route from Punno Akal to Kharian Cantt in Gujrat city.
“4 bogies of special train carrying military troops to Kharian fell over bridge near Jamke Chattha in Canal. Rescue underway,” Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, Director General, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), tweeted.
“Initial investigation, railway bridge collapsed. Shaheed confirmed 12 including Comd of unit, Lt col Amir. 8 bodies found,” he said.
According to a statement issued by the army, 80 passengers have been rescued so far with several army personnel injured.
The pre-partition bridge was reportedly in dilapidated condition.
However, Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique has not ruled out a terror angle to the accident.
“Possibility of sabotage cannot be ruled out in the tragedy,” he said.
Rafique said the intelligence agencies have launched investigation into the incident.
Sources told PTI that some senior army officers and officials of other wings were also travelling on the train.
The train, carrying soldiers and their families, comprised six passenger compartments and 21 freight compartments.
Emergency was declared in hospitals in Gujranwala while hospitals in Lahore have also been alerted.
A Pakistan railways spokesman said the inquiry team set up for the purpose will submit its report within twenty-four hours.
Army rescue teams, Corps Commander and divers reached the site of the accident, launching a massive rescue operation.
“Almost 200 people were travelling on the train,” said SSP Waqas Nazir.
The canal has been closed to carryout the rescue operation, he said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed concern over the incident and directed authorities to mobilise all resources to rescue the injured and restore the track.
The premier directed medical aid to be given to the injured and assure safe return to their destinations.