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22 pilgrims killed as train rams van in Pakistan

At least 22 Sikh pilgrims -- 19 from the same family -- were killed on Friday when a train smashed into a van in the east of Pakistan, authorities said.
The vehicle's driver was crossing an unmanned level crossing when it was hit by an oncoming train near the small city of Farooqabad.
"The crossing was unmanned and the driver of the van took a hasty decision by driving onto the tracks," Pakistan Railways spokeswoman Quratul Ain told AFP, adding that the passengers were all Sikh pilgrims.
"Around 20 people lost their lives in [the] tragic collision. Two injured succumbed to injuries later, raising the death toll to 22", Pakistan's ministry of interior said in a statement.
Earlier a local police spokesman Wajid Abbas confirmed at least 19 dead were from the same family. In total there were 30 pilgrims in the van. No train passengers were injured.
The pilgrims from the north of the country were returning from a visit to Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak, near the megacity of Lahore.
Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that he was "deeply saddened" by the deaths.
Images broadcast on local television showed the mangled van on the train tracks.
Pakistan's minister of interior vowed to "reach to the root cause of the incident and hold the ones responsible for this accountable".
Accidents often happen at unmanned railway crossings in Pakistan which frequently lack barriers and sometimes signals.
The railway network has seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment.
Last October at least 74 people were killed and dozens injured after cooking gas cylinders exploded on a train packed with pilgrims in Punjab province.


© 2020 AFP
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