Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Deadly Pakistan Train Collision

According to the AP:
Three trains collided in a deadly chain reaction in southern Pakistan after a train driver misread a signal early Wednesday, killing at least 127 people and injuring hundreds in the country's worst crash in more than a decade, police and railway officials said.

The accident occurred at about 4 a.m. near Ghotki, some 370 miles northeast of Karachi, in remote Sindh province.

The Quetta Express was traveling from the eastern city of Lahore to the southwestern city of Quetta when a technical problem forced it to stop at the station. Technicians were working on the train when it was struck by the Karachi Express.

The impact pushed three carriages onto an adjacent track, and they in turn were hit by the Tezgam Express, heading from Karachi north to Rawalpindi, causing more derailments, said Abdul Aziz, a senior controller at Pakistan Railways.

In all, some 13 cars derailed.
This has been another horrific tragedy due to Pakistan's antiquated rail system. Whether due to mechanical or human fault, I am sure all of the world's condolences are with the survivors of this catastrophic event.


I cannot begin to imagine not only the anger and sadness of the survivors and victims' families, but also the anger and despair of that train driver. I don't know if I could live with that kind of guilt. How often have we all "misread signals"?

I only hope this tragedy won't be misread. This is a sign to upgrade Pakistan's rail system into modern one, not to scapegoat a human being whose small error had grave consequences. The fact that 3 trains depended on one driver's judgment alone, with no other fail-safes in place, should be the issue in all of this chaos.


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