According to an initial report from a departmental probe, the derailment of the Hazara Express near Nawabshah resulted in at least 30 fatalities and numerous injuries. The six-member Pakistan Railways inquiry team report indicated that missing fishplates and a damaged track were the primary causes. Additionally, the train’s locomotive skidding was another factor behind the derailment. The train engine departed the accident site without proper examination. While sabotage hasn’t been ruled out, some evidence suggests track and maintenance issues were primary contributors.
Two members of the team disagreed with the official findings. One mentioned the derailment was due to missing fishplates, a broken rail, and engine derailment within the track. The other cited a jammed engine axle causing damage to fishplates and bolts.
Although this is a preliminary report, a thorough investigation is ongoing with the Federal Government Inspector of Railways leading the effort. This rail track, overseen by FGIR Ali Mohammad Afridi, is set to be updated as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Pictures circulating on social media allege the damaged rails caused the crash. A Pakistan Railways official, requesting anonymity, recommended jumping to conclusions based on these images.
The derailment caused significant delays. Operations near Sarhari were also previously impacted due to heavy rain but were reported to have resumed normalcy last year.
Peoples Medical University Hospital Nawabshah has reported 27 of the deceased have been handed over to their families, with three bodies in cold storage. Additionally, 21 injured individuals were receiving treatment as of Monday.
This tragic incident aligns with concerns from a 2021 report, which warned about the deteriorated condition of tracks in the Sukkur Division. The report highlighted issues such as missing bolts, fishplates, and thousands of dangerous joints on the main line. This area has a historical precedence of train accidents, signalling the need for significant upgrades and oversight.