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22 dead, 49 hurt as truck falls into ravine in Punjab

CHAKWAL/ISLAMABAD: Twenty-two people were killed and 49 injured when an overloaded truck crashed into a ravine in Pakistan’s central province of Punjab on Saturday, officials said.
The accident happened near the town of Kalar Kahar, which lies 155 km south of the capital Islamabad.
The dead included women and children.
“The incident took place at Mattan village when a pickup truck carrying 65 passengers fell in a ravine due to being overload,” said Imran Akhtar, an official at the rescue control room.
At least 22 people have died and 49 were injured including women and children,” according to another official.
The injured were taken to a nearby government-run rural health center, he said, warning that the clinic was ill-equipped to deal with with the dozens of casualties.
“The rural health center lacks facilities and I fear the death toll might rise,” he said.
A local police official confirmed the incident and said some of the injured would be sent to other hospitals in Chakwal district which surrounds Kalar Kahar.
“The incident occurred due to overloading,” said Ashiq Hussain from the Lila police station.
“Many patients are being shifted to other hospitals in Chakwal and nearby areas due to lack of space at the rural health center,” he told AFP.
Pakistan has one of the world’s worst records for fatal traffic accidents, blamed on poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
Police said that the overloaded Shahzore truck carrying passengers from Sargodha to Khara Sharif fell in 250 feet deep ravine in Marden Qila village of Chakwal. According to reports, the incident occurred due to break failure.
Police, rescuers and locals rushed to the incident place, which is a mining area, and started rescuer operations. Darkness created difficulties for the rescuers. Three children and four women were among the 16 people who died on the spot.
The injured and deceased were shifted to Lillah Hospital, Fauji Foundation and BHU Boochal where state of emergency was declared and paramedics started treating the patients, some of whom were critical. The names and identities of the deceased and injured were yet to be ascertained.
The ill-fated mini-truck with 65 people on board was heading toward Khara from Sargodha Road, at around 8:30 p.m. when it plunged into the ravine owing to brake failure, said a police source.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Rabita Committee, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari have expressed deep sense of sorrow and grief over the loss of precious human lives in a road accident near Chakwal. The Punjab Chief Minister directed the district administration to provide best treatment facilities to the injured and prayed for their early recovery.