ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Two express trains collided in southern Pakistan on Monday morning, killing at least 30 passengers and injuring 50 others, officials said, the latest in a series of train accidents that have raised serious questions about the safety of rail travel in the country.
Most of the passengers were asleep when the Millat Express, a passenger train plying the southern port city of Karachi to Sargodha in Punjab Province, derailed and fell across the track. Within minutes, another passenger train, the Sir Syed Express, which was en route to Karachi from Lahore in eastern Pakistan, crashed into the first train’s fallen carriages, leaving a mangled wreck, local news outlets reported.
The collision occurred between railway stations in Daharki and Raiti in the southern Sindh Province, said Nazia Jabeen, a spokeswoman for Pakistan Railways.
A rescue operation was underway, Ms. Jabeen said. Several of the injured were admitted to hospitals in the Rohri, Pannu Aqil and Sukkur districts, she said, adding that the death toll was likely to rise.
The Pakistan Army said military doctors and paramedical staff from a nearby base were taking part in the relief effort. Army and paramilitary troops were already at the accident site, and two army helicopters were taking part in evacuations.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Twitter that he was “shocked by the horrific train accident” and had ordered a “comprehensive investigation into railway safety fault lines.”
Azam Khan Swati, the Pakistan Railways minister, said a high-level inquiry has been ordered to probe the cause of the collision. “It is too early to say whether the accident was due to sabotage or due to the dilapidated condition of the train track,” Mr. Swati said.
Pakistan has an abysmal train-safety record, and the system is plagued by corruption and mismanagement. Promises by successive governments to overhaul the system have remained unfulfilled. Mr. Khan, who came to power in 2018, had vowed to modernize the system’s poorly maintained signal system and aging tracks, and to ensure its safety mechanisms.
But train accidents have been frequent under Mr. Khan’s government, as well. More than 70 people were killed when a train caught fire in 2019, in one of the worst train accidents in recent years.
In 2005, three trains crashed in a deadly chain-reaction after a train driver misread a signal, killing at least 127 people and injuring hundreds more in southern Pakistan. At least 210 people died and 700 others were injured in 1990, when a train on a 500-mile overnight run south from Multan to Karachi hit an empty freight train. Officials blamed an improperly set switch.