SHEIKHUPURA-Death toll from the crash between an express train and oil-tanker the other night, rose to three on Tuesday, with 18 passengers sustained burns and other injuries, three of whom are stated to be critical.

The accident occurred around mid Tuesday night when Karachi-bound Shalimar Express Train, coming from Lahore, rammed into a petrol-laden oil-tanker, broke down in the middle of rail track at Hiran Minar crossing.

Train driver Abdul Latif and assistant driver Abdul Hameed had died due severe burns soon after the accident while a local Bashir, who was asleep on rooftop of his house adjacent to the railway crossing was also burnt alive. The house was reduced to ashes in the flames that engulfed the area after the crash.

According to eye-witnesses, the oil-tanker was broke down in middle of the track with a broken wheel-axle about 15 minutes ago from the train arrival at the crossing. The oil-tanker driver along with some locals attempted to remove the tanker, carrying three tonnes of oil, but to no avail.

Gatekeeper of the railway crossing Younis, according to some eye-witness and local mediamen, had tried his best to intimate the Sheikhupura station master and Lahore control room about the alarming situation, but his attempts remained unsuccessful. The gatekeeper after being disappointed by the attitude of the railway high-ups, started running towards the in-coming train with a red light in hand but the train driver could grasp his indication of the looming danger.

And the imminent had happened as the engine and four bogies of the ill-fated train badly burnt after it crashed into the oil-tanker. Luggage of the passengers also reduced to ashes in the ensuing fire.

The Rescue 1122 officials reached late at the scene while locals rushed to the site and pulled out passengers after smashing windowpanes of the train.

On the other hand, the oil-tanker driver and gatekeeper Younis have been taken into custody.

It is to be noted that although heavy vehicles are not permitted to cross the Hiran Minar railway crossing and the route for such vehicles has been allocated on bypass Gujranwala Road. But, according to sources, drivers of heavy transport vehicles like oil-tankers violate the rules by allegedly paying illegal gratification to traffic police personnel. The road leading to Hiran Minar railway crossing is not only sloppy but also in a shambles. The residents, and commuters have already brought the situation into the notice of the district administration and highway department but all in vain.