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Saturday May 18, 2024

18 pilgrims die, over 50 injured as truck en route to Shah Noorani shrine falls into ditch

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah says five injured in Civil Hospital's Trauma Center are on ventilators

By Ibrahim Kambho
April 11, 2024
A screengrab taken from a video showing the truck that had fallen into the ditch in Balochistans Hub district on April 10, 2024, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/Geo News Live
A screengrab taken from a video showing the truck that had fallen into the ditch in Balochistan's Hub district on April 10, 2024, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/Geo News Live

HUB: A deadly truck accident in Balochistan's Hub district late Wednesday night has claimed at least 18 lives and injured more than 50 after a vehicle — carrying pilgrims en route to the Shah Noorani shrine — fell in a ditch while taking a turn.

Earlier, during his visit to the Civil Hospital’s Trauma Centre to meet with the injured, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah confirmed 17 deaths. The toll rose after one more injured passenger succumbed to their injuries.

He added that at least 52 injured were brought to the hospital of which 40 have been discharged so far.

“Five injured in the Trauma Center are on ventilators. As long as the injured are on the vent, their health will be critical,” said CM Murad.

The chief minister told journalists that two injured children are also under treatment at the National Institute of Child Health (NICH).

“All efforts will be made to provide the best medical facilities to the injured.”

He told journalists that most of the passengers, aboard the ill-fated vehicle, are poor and worked as stone crushers.

Responding to a query about the cause of incident, CM Murad said: “Our prime concern was to shift the people to the hospitals and provide them treatment when the incident took place last night. The reasons behind the accident will be investigated by the Balochistan government, as it occurred within their jurisdiction

Former lawmaker Jam Awais Jokhio, he added, is with the families of the deceased victims to facilitate them.

PM Shehbaz regrets loss of lives

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has also expressed sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the accident.

The premier has directed for the injured to be provided necessary medical treatment.

Driver in police custody

Karim Baksh, the truck's driver who was also injured in the accident, has been taken into custody by police, he Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Sakro Wajid Ali said, while speaking with journalists outside the Edhi morgue in Karachi's Sohrab Goth earlier today.

The police official confirmed the number of dead passengers, adding that the incident occurred due to a turn during the drive.

The incident occurred when a truck carrying pilgrims from Thatta had fallen into a ditch in the Hub district, while it was on its way to the Shah Noorani shrine in Khuzdar, Balochistan.

At least 15 out of the 17 deceased have been identified, Ali added. Rescue sources, on the other hand, said that a total of 17 dead and 38 injured have been identified.

The SDPO Sakro said: "More than 70 people had left for the pilgrimage from Makli's Qasim Jokhio village."

Social worker Saad Edhi informed journalists that the information about the accident was received by 11pm, while the rescue operation was completed within two hours.

He added that the 17 dead bodies were first transferred to the Civil Hospital Hub, then to the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth. He added that the 35 injured were brought to the Civil Hospital in Karachi.

"The truck fell into the ditch near Shah Noorani causing the accident. The exact time of the accident could not be known due to lack of [mobile network] signal," he said, sharing details regarding the accident,

Edhi said that the dead will be bathed and shrouded, and then taken to their native village in Thatta.

Outside the Edhi morgue in Karachi, the relatives of the victims killed in the incident told media that all the deceased will be buried in the native village Makli.

The relatives refuted reports regarding the incident occurring due to a race between drivers and said that it, in fact, took place after the truck went out of control while taking a turn.

"Passengers kept falling from the truck, which resulted in deaths," they said.

The relatives claim that at least 17 people have died in the accident, while 49 injured are under treatment in Civil Hospital.

The families told Geo News that the truck left Makli at 2pm, while the accident took place at 8pm. They received information about the accident at 9pm.

The relatives of the victims told journalists that at least 20 of their people have died in the incident, while the injured are still being brought to the hospital.

All the people are from the same Qasim Goth village of Makli and visit every year, the added.

Confirming the incident, which took place late Wednesday night, spokesperson of the Balochistan government told Geo News that the pilgrims were travelling to the Shah Noorani shrine from Karachi.

Meanwhile, the police said that the pilgrims belonged to Thatta district in Sindh.

CM Bugti takes notice

Balochistan Chief Minister Sarfraz Bugti also took notice of the incident, directing the district administration to transfer the injured to the hospitals immediately.

The spokesperson of the provincial government shared that an emergency has been imposed in the Jam Ghulam Qadir Hospital Hub. He added that emergency instructions have been sent to the commissioners of Kalat and Hub.

The spokesperson also shared that the CM has asked the administration to contact the Sindh government to shift the critically injured to Karachi.

According to Balochistan Health Secretary Abdullah Khan the bodies of the five people killed and 16 of the injured have been shifted to the Jam Ghulam Qadir Hospital in Hub.

Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi taking note of the incident expressed his sympathy and condolences with the families affected by the incident. He also prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured.

The Shah Noorani shrine is located in a remote mountainous region about 200km away from Karachi.

In December of last year, a bus carrying pilgrims caught fire on its way from Shah Noorani shrine in Balochistan's Khuzdar to Karachi killing at least one passenger and injuring several others.

Back then the accident had also taken place in Hub district.

The accident had taken place near Lang Lohar near Sakran, Hub District, around 30 kilometres from the port city, as the vehicle's engine heated up due to speeding and ignited flames.

The blaze burned the entire bus to ash before being doused.

Bus accidents are not uncommon in Pakistan, in November of 2023 a school bus fell into a ravine near the Shahdara area of Islamabad, killing a school teacher and injuring 20 passengers.