KARACHI: A speeding passenger bus smashed into a tractor-trailer in Sindh on Sunday, killing 42 people including 14 children and injuring more than a dozen others with many in critical condition, police said.
Several passengers were trapped inside the pink bus that was left badly mangled after the high-speed crash in the town of Sukkur, 425 kilometres north of Karachi. Excavators were used to pull the tractor-trailer from the bus, as rescuers struggled to pull out the stranded passengers. One eyewitness said he saw several passengers pleading for help. “They were screaming and shouting: ‘save us, save us’,” he told reporters.
Muhammad Faisal, a senior police official, said: “Most of the passengers were trapped between their seats, we rescued them by cutting the bus body with metal cutters.” He said the speeding bus was trying to overtake the tractor-trailer when it veered out of control. The collision was so severe, he added, that 25 passengers died on the spot. The dead included six members of a 10-member family who were travelling on the bus to visit their relatives in Karachi. “We were ten members of one family. Six of them died,” said 18-year-old Maryam Bibi, weeping. Bibi survived the crash along with her six-year-old brother.
The dead included 14 children and 13 women, said Fida Hussain Shah, a senior Sukkur police officer, adding that the bus driver was killed on the spot while the driver of the tractor-trailer sustained serious injuries. Shah confirmed that overspeeding by the bus was the cause of the accident. Most of the 17 injured were in critical condition and several were transferred to a hospital in Karachi after initial treatment in Sukkur. Police personnel and rescue teams immediately reached the site of the accident and began cutting through the wreckage of the bus to rescue the victims.
The injured were immediately rushed to the nearby district headquarters hospital. People complained that only one doctor was on duty when the injured were brought there. Hospital sources said five women, two kids and six members of a family were among the dead. Motorway Police Superintendent Faisal Abdullah said that the accident occurred due to the negligence of the bus driver who rammed into the trailer while trying to overtake from the wrong side.
Doctors said some of the injured were critical. The deceased included women, children and the driver of the bus as well, according to rescue sources who added that the driver of the trailer had also sustained wounds in the mishap. Most of the victims belonged to Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan, doctors and police said after they carried out identification. The president, prime minister, Punjab chief minister and political leaders expressed sorrow over the accident. The Sindh chief minister directed the hospital administration to provide best possible medical treatment to the injured people.
Pakistan has one of the world’s worst records for fatal traffic accidents due to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving. It must be remembered that sixteen people were killed and 49 injured when an overloaded truck crashed into a ravine earlier this month in Punjab. A collision between two buses and a petrol tanker killed 35 people in late March. National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi have expressed shock and grief over the loss of lives in the accident. In their separate condolence messages, they conveyed their heartfelt grief and sincere sympathies with bereaved families. They prayed to God to rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved families to bear the irreparable loss with equanimity. They also prayed for the early recovery of the injured and asked the concern authority to provide best treatment facilities to them. Sardar Ayaz Sadiq asked the provincial government and local administration to investigate the factors leading to the unfortunate incidents and take appropriate action against the persons responsible.
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