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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Over 125 Die in Pakistan Train Crash

GHOTKI, Pakistan -- Three trains crashed in a deadly chain-reaction after a train driver misread a signal in southern Pakistan early Wednesday, killing at least 127 people and injuring hundreds more in the country's worst crash in more than a decade, police and railway officials said. The nighttime accident jolted passengers awake to a horrifying smash-up that left metal, glass and body parts strewn across a remote railway station near Ghotki. Rescuers frantically cut through twisted metal to reach survivors, as ambulances and buses ferried the injured to nearby hospitals.

"We woke up to a huge bang," said Suraya, a 22-year-old woman who like many Pakistanis goes by just one name. "I fell down to the floor. Then I heard the screams."

At the scene, villagers and surviving passengers -- some splattered with blood -- peered into the wreckage, looking for victims. Massive train wheels, springs and other train parts ripped from carriages were scattered on the tracks.

Cars that had jumped the tracks lay on their side. Others were crumpled into heaps of twisted metal and had crushed motorcycles, cooking pots and other items near the crash site.

Bodies of victims were wrapped in white cloth and piled together. "It is a very gruesome situation," local police chief Agha Mohammed Tahir said. He said 127 bodies had been pulled from the wreckage.

Abdul Wahab Awan, general manager of Pakistan Railways, said hundreds more were injured.

Awan blamed the driver of the night-coach Karachi Express for misreading a signal and rear-ending another passenger train. "The crash occurred because of misreading of a signal by the driver of Karachi Express, and it rammed the Quetta Express, which was not moving," Awan told The Associated Press.

The accident occurred at about 4 a.m. near Ghotki, some 600 kilometers northeast of Karachi, in remote Sindh province. The initial crash derailed at least three carriages onto another track, where they were struck by the third train, causing more derailment, said Abdul Aziz, a senior controller at Pakistan Railways. In all, some 13 cars derailed.

Chaudhry Nazir Ahmed, a railroad official in Ghotki, said about 1,000 people were believed to be traveling in the three trains.

Some 30 bodies and over 100 injured people were taken to the Civil Hospital in the nearby town of Sukkur, said Iqbal Ahmed, a doctor there. He said at least 12 people were in critical condition, some with lost limbs or head injuries.

Rescuers had to cut through metal to get to some of the injured, said Tahir, the local police chief. "They are being pulled out every minute," he said.

Pakistan's railways are antiquated, and there have been many accidents in recent years -- including several at Ghotki -- blamed often on faulty equipment or human error. A passenger train from Karachi to Lahore slammed into a parked freight train at Ghotki on June 8, 1991, killing more than 100 people. Authorities blamed staff negligence for that accident. In December 1989, a train crash near Sangi, a town 60 kilometers from Ghotki, killed 400 people.