At least 6 killed as passenger and freight trains collide

MULTAN, Pakistan -- At least six passengers were killed and more than 100 others were injured Thursday when a passenger train collided with a freight train near the central Pakistani city of Multan, rescuers and railway officials said.

The pre-dawn accident happened near the town of Sher Khan in Punjab province, 15 minutes after the freight train stopped after hitting a man on the track, railway official Saima Bashir said.

Bashir said the freight train had stopped so its driver could remove the body of the man who had been crushed to death while crossing the railway track. The freight train was then hit from behind by the passenger train.

“The driver of the passenger train did not see the red signal which went up after the man was crushed to death by the freight train,” she said.

Pakistani volunteers move an injured man from the wreckage following the collision of two trains on the outskirts of Multan, Sept. 15, 2016. Getty

Bashir said authorities have ordered a probe to determine the exact cause of accident, but initial investigations suggest the driver of passenger train was at fault for the crash.

Munir Chishti, in charge of railway police, ruled out the possibility of sabotage, saying it was an accident.

Earlier troops rushed to scene of the accident, where Maj. Gen. Mohammad Arif, a senior army officer, told The Associated Press that the military would extend the best possible support to civil authorities to restore normal rail traffic and transferred the injured to hospitals.

Rescue official Kalim Ullah six bodies and more than 100 injured passengers were taken to hospitals. He said some of those injured were in a critical condition.

TV footage showed derailed cars and wreckage of the train as ambulances rushed away.

In a statement, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan expressed sympathies for the families of the dead and injured.

Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where tracks and bridges are often poorly maintained.