KARACHI: At least 21 people, including 19 children, were killed on Wednesday when a school van smashed head-on into a heavy truck, officials said.
The van collided with the loaded dump-truck near the town of Nawabshah, around 270 kilometres north of Karachi. The children, who were students of the Bright Future School from the nearby town of Daulatpur, had come to Nawabshah for a school trip. Their van was on its way back to Daulatpur when the accident happened. “It was a head-on collision when the truck slammed into the school van on a single track dirt road. Apparently, speeding and recklessness resulted in the accident,” Abdul Rahim Gopang, a police officer, said by telephone from near the accident.
Doctor Hashim Langa, chief of the government-run Civil Hospital in Nawabshah, said the hospital had received 21 dead bodies out of which 19 were children. “Their ages range from five or six to 16,” he told AFP. Apart from the dead, some 15 to 20 injured were also brought to the hospital, seven of whom were in intensive care and neurological wards, he added. Police said that they were trying to locate the driver of the truck who had fled the scene. Senior police officer Asif Ali Pechuho told AFP that the school van had been so badly wrecked that rescue workers had to use tools to extract bodies. The driver of the school van was among the dead, he added.
Television channels showed footage of parents running into a hospital in Nawabshah, frantically looking for their children. “All our dreams have been shattered. How can I live without my child,” a weeping Muhammad Akram, who lost his only son in the accident, said by telephone from the hospital.
Police said that Edhi ambulances rushed to the accident spot and shifted the bodies and injured to the Peoples Medical College Hospital. The trauma centre was left with no space for doctors and hospital staff, as hundreds of citizens dashed to the hospital to donate blood for the injured. MNA Faryal Talpur announced a compensation of Rs 0.5 million for each deceased child and issued directives to provide best treatment to all the injured passengers. She said that those responsible for the accident would not be spared and would be given exemplary punishment.
At least four of the injured students were shifted to the Intensive Care Unit due to their serious condition. The ill-fated van was carrying 30 male and female students and two teachers. Emergency was immediately announced at the Peoples Medical College Hospital and all doctors and paramedics were called in. Pakistan has one of the world’s worst records for fatal traffic accidents, blamed on poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
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