19 killed in Pakistan military train crash, sabotage suspected

Islamabad: At least 19 people, including four army officers, were killed when three bogies of a special train carrying army officials fell into a canal and one other was derailed as a railway bridge collapsed.

A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said 14 dead bodies had been recovered from the site of the incident, while divers were searching the canal for five more dead bodies, Dawn reported.

The special train was heading to Kharian from Pano Aqil. According to sources, the train was carrying army personnel who were travelling for a military exercise. Local residents, divers and army personnel have been engaged in rescue operations while all railway traffic has been disrupted on the route.

The pre-partition bridge that collapsed as the train was passing over it was reportedly in a dilapidated condition. The Gujranwala incident of a special train's derailing seems to be result of an act of "sabotage", Railway Minister Saad Rafique said, adding it seems confusing whether the special train met an accident or was it an act of deliberate disruption.

Rafique said apparently some other hand seems to be at play in the incident. "We are getting an idea of what would have happened to the train," the minister said. "However, a final word cannot be given prior to the submission of the inquiry report." He ruled out possibility of the worn-out bridge to be the reason behind the incident.

Rafique said the condition of the track was inspected on daily basis, while investigative agencies and railways engineers were busy investigating the matter. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed concern over the accident and directed to mobilise all resources to rescue the injured and restoration of the track.

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