07/13/2005, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Rail accident a national tragedy

by Qaiser Felix

Lahore (AsiaNews) – This morning's train accident is a national tragedy that requires a thorough investigation, said Fr Emmanuel Asi, executive secretary of the Catholic Bible Commission of Pakistan, who spoke to AsiaNews. The incident occurred near the town of Ghotki in Sindh province.

According to Father Asi, Pakistan has suffered other railway disasters either because of negligence or structural weaknesses to the rail infrastructure. "Railway lines should be doubled in many areas of the country like Ghotki," he said.

"Railways are particularly important and the government should pay special attention to their improvement and to the safety of passengers," he added.

In this latest incident, three passenger trains collided at Ghotki, a place some 270 km from Karachi.

The official death toll now stands at 120 people, but it is likely to rise. Hundreds of people have been injured, and some of them are still trapped inside the 17 carriages.

Railways authorities have set up a control centre to help relatives with information on the victims, including the names of the dead and as well as that of medical facilities were the injured have been hospitalized.

For the police it is still too early to determine the causes of the collision, but a technical fault is suspected. Railways officials are instead blaming one of the train drivers for misreading a signal.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz have ordered an investigation into the crash.

Both extended their condolences to the victims' families and have taken measures to help them as well as assist the injured.

The government has announced that each family who lost someone will receive 200,000 rupees (€ 2,760 or US$ 3,300).

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