Pakistan: Train fire in NE Pakistan kills 65, injures 40

31st Oct 2019
Pakistan: Train fire in NE Pakistan kills 65, injures 40

By Aamir Latif

 

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) : At least 65 people were killed and over 40 injured, many serious, when a fire broke out Thursday morning on a passenger train in northeast Pakistan, an official confirmed.

The fire started when a gas cylinder exploded in a carriage of a train carrying members of Tablighi Jamat — a non-political global Islamic missionary movement — near the Rahimyar Khan district in the Punjab province, city police chief Amir Taimoor Khan told reporters.

At least 40 people were injured, more than a dozen of them critically, Taimoor said, adding he fears the death toll will rise. Women and children are among the victims.

Railway Minister Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad told reporters the blast occurred after some of the Tablighi members lit a stove connected to a gas cylinder to prepare breakfast.

The fire swept through two other carriages, forcing many passengers to jump off the moving train, which led to many of the deaths and injuries, he said.

The train was bound from Karachi to Rawalpindi.

Footage aired on local broadcaster Geo News showed rescue workers struggling to put out the fire as giant plumes of fire and smoke wafted upward.

To assist civil administration, army troops including doctors and paramedics moved to the incident site for rescue and relief operation. Army aviation helicopter flew from Multan to the incident site to evacuate the critically injured.

Nabila Aslam, a Railways official, told DawnNewsTV that the passengers must have “hidden the gas cylinder in their clothes” while boarding the train, as carrying one was strictly against the rules.

However, railways Minister Sheikh Rashid confirmed that two stoves blew up. “Two stoves blew up when people were cooking breakfast, the presence of kerosene with the passengers in (the) moving train further spread the fire,” he said.

“Most deaths occurred from people jumping off the train,” the minister claimed.

Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted that he was “deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy of the Tezgam train”.

“My condolences go to the victims’ families and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. I have ordered an immediate inquiry to be completed on an urgent basis,” he wrote.

Pakistan has had a long history of train accidents, mainly due to lack of safety measures.

This July some 21 passengers were killed and over 80 injured after two trains collided in the nearby Sadiqabad district.

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Photo: Pakistani rescuers shift victims from the train as fire erupted in it in a gas cylinder blast at Chani Goth area in Rahimyar District in southern Punjab province on October 31, 2019.  Photographer: MUHAMMAD BILAL/AA]

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