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Sunday, September 19, 1999 Published at 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK

World: South Asia

Pakistan train crash kills 20

Rescue workers examine the twisted wreckage

At least 20 people were killed and 70 injured near the Pakistani city of Islamabad late on Saturday night when an express train and an unmanned railway engine collided head-on.

The accident happened near Wah Cantonment, 48 km (30 miles) northwest of Islamabad.

Witnesses said the first carriage of the Peshawar-Karachi express, packed with passengers, was a mangled mass of steel and the second badly damaged.

Most of the dead and injured were from a party of 83 Afghan Ismaili refugees being taken to Karachi for resettlement by an aid organisation.

Nearby residents ran to the crash site, removing the dead and taking the wounded to nearby hospitals.

The engine was out of service and may have rolled some three km (two miles) because of defective brakes, police said.

A top-level investigation into the disaster is under way.

In the past decade, more than 2,000 people have died in train crashes in Pakistan.

The deadliest occurred in 1989 when two passenger trains collided in southern Sindh province killing 850 people.

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