Fire engulfs Tezgam Express which connects major Pakistani cities
A fire swept through a Pakistani train, Tezgam on Thursday, killing at least 65 people and injuring nearly 40 after a gas canister that passengers were using to cook breakfast exploded, government officials said. The train connects major Pakistani cities including Lahore, Karachi, and Rawalpindi.
(Text from Reuters)
Three carriages destroyed
The fire destroyed three of the train's carriages near the town of Rahim Yar Khan in the south of Punjab province. It was on its way from the southern city of Karachi to Rawalpindi, near the capital, with many people going to a religious conference.
Worst railway disaster in 15 years
It was the worst disaster on Pakistan's accident-plagued railway system in nearly 15 years.
According to the Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said, two stoves blew up when people were cooking breakfast, and the presence of kerosene with the passengers in the moving train further spread the fire.
People leapt from moving train
Many of the dead were killed when they leapt from the moving train to escape the flames, he said. People sneaking stoves onto trains to prepare meals on long journeys is a common problem.
No consensus on cause
Several survivors questioned whether the fire was sparked by a cooking accident, telling media they believed the cause was a short-circuit in the train's electrical system. Television pictures showed fire and black smoke pouring from the train's windows after it came to a stop on a stretch of line flanked by fields.
Increasing death toll
The death toll had risen to 65, with some victims burned beyond recognition, said the deputy commissioner of the district, Jameel Ahmad. According to him, DNA tests will be done to ascertain the identity of many victims.
40 injured, many suffer serious burns
Nearly 40 people were injured, many with serious burns, he said.
Enroute a conference
Many of the passengers were heading to a conference organised by the Tablighi Jamaat Sunni Muslim missionary movement.
Railway in disrepair
Pakistan’s colonial-era railway network has fallen into disrepair in recent decades due to chronic under-investment and poor maintenance, and accidents are common. About 130 people were killed in 2005 when a train rammed into another at a station in Sindh province, and a third train hit the wreckage.