Overhead power line hits passengers of crowded train

Monday, January 29, 2007

KARACHI, Pakistan -- Dozens of people sitting on the roof of a crowded passenger train were by hit by an overhead power line in southern Pakistan on Sunday. As many as 11 people were killed and scores injured.

Those killed and injured were either electrocuted or tossed from the moving train after they hit the high voltage line, said Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Pakistan's railway minister.

Ahmed, speaking by telephone from Brussels where he was on an official visit, said 11 people died in the accident near the town of Sukkur in Pakistan's southern Sindh province.

Salahuddin Haider, a spokesman for the Sindh provincial government, said 10 bodies were taken to hospitals in Sukkur and the nearby town of Shikarpur, and "scores" of other people were injured in the accident.

Many of the passengers sitting on the train's roof were Shiite Muslims who were traveling to attend a religious gathering, said Ahmed Khan, a railroad official in Sukkur. Khan said the train was crowded and those who could not get inside clambered to the roof.

Some of those on the roof carried religious flags and other symbols that apparently struck the overhead electricity line, he said.

Shiite Muslims gather at a mosque in Rohri in connection with the annual mourning festival of Ashoura, in which Shiites mourn the killing of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Islam's prophet Muhammad, Khan said.

The accident occurred about 223 miles northeast of Karachi, capital of Sindh.

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