April 20, 2014

KARACHI, Pakistan — At least 42 people were killed Sunday morning in southern Pakistan after a bus slammed into a tractor-trailer in one of the worst traffic accidents in this country in recent years, officials and rescue workers said.

The crash took place on a busy highway in the Sukkur district of southern Sindh Province. The bus, which departed from the Dera Ghazi Khan district of Punjab Province, collided head-on with a tractor-trailer traveling in the opposite direction, said Sharjeel Kharal, the deputy inspector general of the Sindh Police. The driver of the bus lost control of his vehicle, which had seats for 60 but was overloaded and carrying 75 passengers, police officials said.

Rescue workers attempting to pull passengers out of a bus after a deadly collision with a trailer truck on Sunday in the Sukkur district of southern Sindh Province. PAKISTAN / REUTERS

The dead included 14 women and 13 children, all from the Dera Ghazi Khan district, Mr. Kharal said. The crash also left 30 people injured.

Some of the injured blamed the bus driver for reckless driving and held him responsible for the crash. The driver tried to pass another vehicle on a narrow road but ran into the tractor-trailer, the passengers said.

The bus driver was killed instantly, and the driver of the tractor-trailer was injured, local news media reported. The Sukkur police said they would investigate whether the two drivers were criminally negligent.

Local residents rushed to the hospitals in Sukkur to donate blood for the injured passengers. Ten critically injured passengers were taken to a hospital in Karachi after receiving emergency medical treatment in Sukkur.

It took the police and rescue teams several hours to cut through the metal wreckage of the bus to rescue the injured and to retrieve the bodies of those killed. Local television news networks broadcast images of the mangled wreckage after the collision.

Sindh’s chief minister, Qaim Ali Shah, ordered an investigation into the crash and directed local officials to make arrangements to transfer the victims’ bodies to the their hometowns.

Pakistan has one of the world’s worst records for fatal traffic accidents. Tahir Khan, superintendent of the National Highway and Motorway Police, said that every year, 12,000 to 15,000 people die in crashes in Pakistan, mainly because of poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

Last month, at least 33 people were killed in a multivehicle collision along a coastal highway in southwestern Baluchistan Province.

In separate developments on Sunday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered a judicial inquiry into the attempted assassination of Hamid Mir, a prominent journalist and a critic of the Pakistani military.

Mr. Mir was wounded in a gun attack on Saturday evening in Karachi. His relatives have blamed the director of the country’s powerful intelligence service, Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, for the attack. A spokesman of the Pakistani military has denied the accusations.

Zia ur-Rehman reported from Karachi, and Salman Masood from Islamabad, Pakistan.