ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday expressed grief over the loss of nearly 300 lives in one of the deadliest train crashes in India, as rescue workers searched through piles of debris and wreckage for bodies and survivors in the Indian state of Odisha.
Nearly a dozen coaches of one train derailed late Friday and debris from some of them fell onto a nearby track, according to railroad ministry spokesperson Amitabh Sharma. The debris was hit by another passenger train, causing up to three coaches of the second train to derail as well.
More than 288 dead bodies were recovered overnight and around 900 people were injured in the accident in Balasore district, while rescuers were cutting through the destroyed carriages to find people who may still be trapped under the debris.
In his reaction to the tragedy, Pakistan PM Sharif extended his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and said he was praying for recover of the wounded.
“Deeply saddened by the loss of hundreds of lives in a train accident in India,” the Pakistan premier said on Twitter. “I extend my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy. Prayers for speedy recovery of the injured.”
Train accidents have not been uncommon in India and Pakistan, where a majority of railway tracks date back to the pre-partition British colonial era and there has been little improvement in the department since their independence in 1947.
A speeding train ran over revellers watching fireworks during a Hindu festival in northern India on October 19, 2018, killing at least 60 people.
In 2016, at least 146 people died when an Indore-Patna Express train with around 2,000 people on board derailed in Uttar Pradesh, sending carriages crashing into each other.
In June 2021, more than 60 people died when a train hurtling through farmland derailed and collided with another passenger service in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province.