ISLAMABAD: At least 11 people were killed and nearly 80 injured when two trains collided in central Pakistan on Thursday (Jul 11), officials said, with the prime minister blaming the ageing rail infrastructure that has "fallen into disrepair".
The incident took place in Sadiqabad area of Punjab province's southern Rahim Yar Khan district. A passenger train coming from the eastern city of Lahore rammed into a goods train that had stopped at a crossing, a senior government official said.
A senior Pakistan Railways official said: "We fear the death toll will rise as rescue teams are still cutting (through) the wreckage."
Rescue workers freed the wounded by cutting through the twisted metal of the carriages and dozens were taken to hospital, police said.
Local police officer Omar Salamat said on Thursday morning that at least 66 passengers were injured in the accident and had been taken to nearby hospitals.
Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a statement of condolence in which he blamed the infrastructure of Pakistan's colonial-era railway network which has fallen into disrepair due to chronic under-investment and poor maintenance.
"Have asked Railways Minister to take emergency steps to counter decades of neglect of railway infrastructure and ensure safety standards," Khan tweeted.
Last month, six people were killed when a freight train collided with a passenger train in Hyderabad 165km from Karachi.
TV footage from the site showed the heavily damaged train engine and carriages, as emergency workers and local people used metal-cutting tools and heavy cranes.
The cause of Thursday's crash is under investigation but Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said human error was believed to be responsible.
"I have ordered an inquiry. The investigation will complete in two to three days," he told Geo Television.
The minister also announced compensation for the dead and injured.