According to the spokesman, the rescue teams took the injured to nearby hospitals for treatment. “Many” other passengers were in critical condition on Monday afternoon (local time), the spokesman said. A total of around 1,000 people were on board the two trains.
Both tracks were closed after the accident. Rescue workers pulled corpses and injured passengers from the wreck after several hours of intensive use of heavy machinery and steel cutters, the spokesman said. The rescue operation has now been completed.
Local media reported that it took a few hours for rescue workers to reach the scene of the accident. The Pakistani army sent troops, two helicopters, doctors and paramedics to support the rescue and relief efforts, the military announced.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “shocked” by the accident. He ordered investigations into the safety of the railways. According to Information Minister Fawad Hussain, investigations are ongoing to determine whether the cause of the accident was a “terrorist act” or human or technical failure.
Fatal train accidents are not uncommon in Pakistan. The tracks were laid under British colonial rule around a century ago and have hardly been renewed since then. Aside from obsolete tracks, bomb attacks by Islamists and separatists and generally weak security measures have been the cause of hundreds of deaths in train accidents in the South Asian country in the past.