At least 19 people have been killed after a passenger train crashed into a bus carrying Sikh pilgrims at an unmanned railway crossing in eastern Pakistan, officials said.
Several others were injured in the accident that took place on Friday in Sheikhupura district in Punjab province, according to a statement from Imran Gondal, a Pakistani government official whose department oversees Sikh pilgrimages.
Officials said the pilgrims were from the northwestern city of Peshawar and were returning from the Sheikupura-based shrine of Nankana Sahib when the crash happened.
A total of 19 people were confirmed dead, Gondal said, adding that there were 22 passengers in the bus.
Ghazi Salahuddin, the district police chief, said the dead and injured were taken to a nearby hospital.
Local police spokesman Wajid Abbas confirmed the dead were all from the same family and that eight other people were in a critical condition at hospital. No train passengers were injured.
Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan in a tweet offered his condolences to the families of the victims and directed relevant authorities to ensure facilitation and care for all the families.
Images broadcast on local television showed the mangled van on the train tracks.
Pakistan’s railway minister called for an immediate investigation into the crash.
Sikhs have several shrines of their religious leaders in Pakistan. One, of Sikh founder Guru Nanak, is located in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, bordering India, in Punjab. It was built after he died in the 16th century.
Many Sikh holy sites became part of Pakistan after the British partitioned the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947 following two centuries of colonial rule.