A PASSENGER BUS smashed into a tractor-trailer in southern Pakistan earlier today, killing 42 people including 14 children and injuring more than a dozen others with many in critical condition, police said.
Several passengers were trapped inside the pink bus that was left badly mangled after the high-speed crash in the town of Sukkur, 425 kilometres (266 miles) north of Karachi in the province of Sindh.
Excavators were used to pull the tractor-trailer from the bus, as rescuers struggled to pull out the stranded passengers.
One eyewitness said he saw several passengers pleading for help.
“They were screaming and shouting: ‘save us, save us’,” he told reporters.
Muhammad Faisal, a senior police official, said: “Most of the passengers were trapped between their seats, we rescued them by cutting the bus body with metal cutters.”
He said the speeding bus was trying to overtake the tractor-trailer when it veered out of control. The collision was so severe, he added, that 25 passengers died on the spot.
The dead included six members of a 10-member family who were travelling on the bus to visit their relatives in Karachi.
“We were ten members of one family. Six of them died,” said 18-year-old Maryam Bibi, weeping. Bibi survived the crash along with her six-year-old brother.
The dead included 14 children and 13 women, said Fida Hussain Shah, a senior Sukkur police officer, adding that the bus driver was killed on the spot while the driver of the tractor-trailer sustained serious injuries.
Shah confirmed that speeding by the bus was the cause of the accident.
Most of the 17 injured were in critical condition and several were transferred to a hospital in Karachi after initial treatment in Sukkur.
Pakistan has one of the world’s worst records for fatal traffic accidents due to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
Sixteen people were killed and 49 injured when an overloaded truck crashed into a ravine earlier this month in the central province of Punjab.
A collision between two buses and a petrol tanker killed 35 people in southwest Pakistan in late March.