Sikh pilgrims were killed in a train bus crash in Pakistan's Punjab



At least 19 people were killed and many injured when a passenger train crashed into a bus carrying Sikh pilgrims at an unmanned railway crossing in East Pakistan.


According to a statement by Pakistan government official Imran Gondal, the accident took place on Friday in the Sheikhupura district of Punjab province, whose department oversees Sikh pilgrims.

Officials said the pilgrims were from the northwestern city of Peshawar and were returning from the temple at Shekupura in Nankana Sahib after the accident.

All 19 were confirmed dead, Gondal said.

The dead and injured have been taken to a nearby hospital, district police chief Ghazi Salauddin said.

Pakistan Railway spokesman Khurram Ain told news agency AFP that the crossing was unmanned and that the driver of the van had made a hasty decision by driving on the tracks.

Local police spokesman Wajid Abbas confirmed that all the deceased were from one family and eight others were in critical condition. None of the train passengers were injured.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condoled the families of the victims.

"I would suggest to the relevant authorities to ensure the comfort and care of all the families. The operational safety SOP of our entire railway will be reviewed immediately," he tweeted.

Images aired on local television showed a van parked on railroad tracks.

The Pakistan Railway Minister called for an immediate investigation into the accident.

Pakistan has a history of rail accidents mainly due to a lack of infrastructure and safety standards.

In February, at least 20 people were killed when a train bus derailed in the southern province of Sindh:

In July last year, 73 people were killed when a train car caught fire.

Sikhs in Pakistan have temples of their own religious elders. One, Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikhs, is located in Kartarpur, Pakistan, on the Indian border, in Punjab. It was built in the 16th century after death.

After the two centuries of colonial rule, the British divided the subcontinent into India and Pakistan, in 1947 many Sikh shrines became part of Pakistan.

Relations between rival neighbors deteriorated rapidly after India overturned the partial autonomy of the disputed Kashmir region in early August.

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