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Train carrying holiday travelers derails in Pakistan, killing 50

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

MIRPURKHAS, Pakistan -- An express train crowded with holiday travelers derailed in southern Pakistan early Wednesday, killing at least 50 people and injuring many more, officials said.

The overnight train was going from Karachi to Lahore when about 12 of its 16 cars came off the rails near Mehrabpur, about 250 miles north of Karachi, the officials said.

Rescue workers recovered 50 bodies from the wreckage and were bringing in metal cutting equipment to gain access to more of the cars, said Sikander Ali, a senior police officer at the scene.

Azhar Ali Rajpar, a local villager who heard the crash and rushed to the scene, said he had seen "countless" injured people.

"Almost all of the carriages were destroyed," Rajpar said by telephone. "There is total darkness. It is almost impossible for the rescuers."

The train jumped the tracks around 2 a.m. as it carried hundreds of passengers home for the Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Adha.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

Mehrabpur Mayor Farooq Ahmed Leghari said about 80 people injured in the crash were rushed to the city's hospital.

Maqsoodun Nabi, a police official in Karachi, said the train was loaded with about 700 passengers, including a large wedding party who had booked a special car.

Deadly accidents are a regular occurrence on Pakistan's colonial-era railway network.

A speeding train struck a crowded bus at a railway crossing near Lahore in October, killing 12 people and injuring about 50 others. About 130 people died in July 2005 when three trains collided in southern Pakistan.


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