Sabotage suspected as Pakistan troop train plunges into canal

2015-07-02 14:25
A Pakistani army helicopter takes part in a rescue operation after train compartments fell into a canal following the partial collapse of a bridge in Wazirabad. (STR, AFP)

A Pakistani army helicopter takes part in a rescue operation after train compartments fell into a canal following the partial collapse of a bridge in Wazirabad. (STR, AFP)

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Lahore - A train carrying hundreds of Pakistan soldiers and their families plunged several metres into a canal on Thursday when a bridge collapsed in the country's east in what the army suspects was sabotage, officials said.

At least six people were missing, but officials at the ministry of railways and the military had not confirmed any deaths. An army spokesperson confirmed that four carriages plunged into the canal.

The military is fighting a Taliban insurgency in several regions of the country's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan in the northwest.

The crash in Pakistan's Gujranwala district, in the northeast, happened as an army unit was being transported from southern Sindh province to northern Pakistan.

"There were around 300 passengers on board," Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq told Reuters. "It is too early to say about the reason for the mishap. Rescue work is under way."

More than 50 people were rescued, a military official said.

Television images of the scene showed several carriages partly submerged in the canal.

Rafiq told local Geo TV that six people were missing and the cause of the crash was unknown. But a senior military official said the army suspected sabotage.

"We suspect that this was an act of sabotage and the planks on the rail were tampered with," the official said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The collapse also raises concerns about the safety of infrastructure. Several TV channels reported that the bridge had been marked as "extremely dangerous".

In May, a Pakistan military helicopter carrying diplomats to inspect a tourist project crashed, killing seven people, including the ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines.

Read more on:    taliban  |  pakistan

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