As of Friday, at least 19 Pakistani Sikh pilgrims were killed. A mini bus carrying them hit a passenger train at a level crossing in Punjab province, Pakistan.
There have been conflicting reports on the death toll, as police and rescuers confirmed 20 dead while railways put the figure at 15. But the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) insisted that a total of 29 people, including 19 Sikh pilgrims, lost their lives in the accident.
However, police and the ETPB confirmed that the dead included 19 Sikhs who belonged to Peshawar.
The mini-bus carrying Sikh pilgrims returning from Nankana Sahib to Punjab hit the Shah Hussain Express coming from Karachi to Lahore at a crossing near Sheikhupura district at around 1:30 p.m., officials said.
“The bus mainly transported Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Sacha Sauda in Farooqabad in the district. They came to Nankana Sahib from Peshawar. After staying in Nanakana Sahib, they left for Peshawar. The ETPB security had escorted them to bordering Nankana. Sahib, “said ETPB spokesperson Amir Hashmi.
Senior police official Ghazi Salahuddin told reporters at the crash site that 26 people were traveling on the bus when it struck the moving train.
“Twenty passengers died, including women and children,” he said, adding that the crossing door was closed and it appeared that the driver had tried to take a shortcut instead of waiting for the door opens.
He denied reports that the crossing was unmanned.
Pakistan’s railways, however, in a statement, said the minibus collided with the train at the unmanned crossing, killing 15 people.
ETPB deputy director Imran Gondal said in a statement that 22 Sikhs from Peshawar had come to Nankana Sahib.
“On their way back to Peshawar, their high-roof van collided with a train near Sacha Sauda Farooqabad Sheikhupura. As many as 19 Sikhs, including women, were killed. The others were injured and transferred to from district and Lahore hospitals. The bodies were moved to Mayo Lahore Hospital, “he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was saddened by the tragic disappearance of Sikh pilgrims in a road accident in Pakistan on Friday.
At least 29 people, mostly Pakistani Sikh pilgrims, were killed when a mini-bus bringing them back from the Nankana Sahib Shrine got on a train at an unmanned crossing in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
“Saddened by the tragic disappearance of Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan. My thoughts are with their families and friends in this hour of mourning,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
“I pray that the injured pilgrims will recover as soon as possible,” he said.
Saddened by the tragic disappearance of Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan. My thoughts are with their families and friends in this hour of grief.
I pray that the injured pilgrims will recover as soon as possible.
– Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 3, 2020
Rescue teams arrived on the scene and moved the injured to the district headquarters hospital, a statement from the Ministry of Railways said.
The railways said that a divisional engineer had been suspended from his duties and that an investigation had been opened.
Minister of Railways Sheikh Rashid has ordered authorities to take immediate action against those responsible for the accident.
Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his sorrow over the accident and ordered the authorities to provide the best medical aid to the injured