Two trains collide in Sangi, Pakistan, on this day in 1990, killing between 200 and 300 people and injuring an estimated 700 others. This was the worst rail accident to date in Pakistan.
The train Zakaria Bahauddin (named after a holy man according to Pakistani tradition) had a capacity of 1,400 passengers and often traveled the 500 miles between Multan and Karachi. On January 4, the Zakaria, with 16 cars, was making this journey overnight. The train, with 2,000 passengers, was overloaded, a quite common occurrence in Pakistan at the time.
As the train approached the village of Sangi in Sindh province, it suddenly was sent onto a side track. Unbeknownst to the Zakaria, a 67-car freight train was parked overnight on this new track, and the Zakaria plowed straight into the back of it at 35 miles per hour. The locomotive was knocked right off the rails and took the first three passenger cars with it. Virtually everyone on these first three cars was seriously injured or killed.
An estimated 200 to 300 people were killed and approximately 700 others were treated at area hospitals. Some victims had to be airlifted to Karachi for immediate treatment. The train’s engineer survived the crash and revealed later that the train had been sent onto the side track by an inattentive signalman, who was subsequently jailed for manslaughter.
Pakistan’s rail system serves more than 65 million passengers annually. Unfortunately, the crash in Sangi was not unique. Less than 18 months later, a similar crash in Ghotki killed more than 100 people.