Pakistan train fire claims over 70 victims

More than 70 passengers on a train travelling between Karachi and Rawalpindi in Pakistan have been killed in a horrific fire in one of the country’s worst rail disasters.

The blaze was originally caused by a gas cylinder explosion, whilst being used by passengers who were cooking breakfast, with the fire then spreading between three different carriages.

According to local officials, the majority of the victims died trying to flee the burning train, with a further 40 people suffering injuries.

The accident occurred near the town of Rahim Yar Khan in the south of Punjab province.

Credit – BBC

Three carriages were set alight, officals say, with 54 people in the 11th carriage and 78 each in number 12 and 13, most of which were travelling to one of Pakistan’s largest annual religious festivals.

Some of the bodies were believed to be so badly burnt that the victims could not be identified, according to District deputy commissioner, Jamil Ahmed, with several reports blaming an electrical fault on board for the fire as people say they believe a short-circuit caused the blaze.

On Twitter, Prime Minister, Imran Khan said he was “deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy”, adding that he has ordered an “immediate inquiry.”

In Pakistan, travelling by train is the most common form of transport as not many people can afford cars or bikes. The tracks connect the length of the country.

Although some trains have dedicated dining carriages, most are low-quality and often overcrowded, meaning passengers choose to bring their own amenities and cooking equipment for long journeys.

The security is also very sparse so locals take advantage of this by bringing items that are usually frowned upon on-board, such as cooking stoves and oil canisters, items that are believed to have caused the explosion.

So far, this has been recorded as Pakistan’s worst rail disaster for over a decade. The country has a history of incidents such as this and fatalities are usually high due to the cramped nature of trains and the inability to inform others when a fire breaks out

In 2007, at least 56 people were killed and more than 120 injured in a crash near Mehrabpur and in 2005, more than 130 people were killed when three trains collided in Sindh province in one of the country’s worst rail disasters.

 

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