Friday, 1 November 2019

70 Die In Train Cooking Gas Explosion

At least 70 people have been killed after gas cooking stoves exploded and set fire to a crowded train in Pakistan.

More than 30 people were wounded, some critically, in the blaze which started when two gas stoves being used by poorer passengers to cook breakfast on Thursday morning blew up.

The fire, which was fuelled by cooking oil the passengers were carrying, engulfed three carriages of the train, which was carrying people from Karachi to a religious conference in Rawalpindi.

As smoke and flames tore through the train, desperate passengers threw themselves out of the moving carriages - many of them jumping to their deaths.

Children were among those killed in the blaze, according to local reports.

Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told Geo TV: 'Two cooking stoves blew up. They were cooking, they had (cooking) oil which added fuel to fire

'Most deaths occurred from people jumping off the train.'

Mr Ahmed said that poor passengers often bring their own small gas stoves on the trains to cook their meals, in violation of train safety rules.

As the fire took hold, the three burning economy class cars were disconnected from the rest of the train to prevent it spreading.

Radio Pakistan reported that there were 207 passengers on the economy class section of the train when the fire started.
The burning carriages eventually came to a stop near Rahim Yar Khan, around halfway along the train's route.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge offer condolences after Pakistan train fire
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have offered their condolences to the families of the 74 people who died in the train blaze.

In a letter to the country's president Arif Alvi, William and Kate said they were 'horrified and deeply saddened' to hear of the incident near the town of Rahim Yar Khan.

William and Kate are pictured above on their royal tour of Pakistan earlier this month, at a village in Lahore
William and Kate are pictured above on their royal tour of Pakistan earlier this month, at a village in Lahore

Most of those who died were members of Tableeqi-e-Jamaat, an organisation of Islamic missionaries.

An official statement from Kensington Palace said: 'Our thoughts and prayers are with all the people and families affected by this heart-breaking disaster. '

William and Kate recently returned from a five-day royal tour of Pakistan to strengthen ties between between London and Islamabad.

The wounded were being rushed to hospitals in the nearby city of Bahawalpur and elsewhere in Rahim Yar Khan district, a local official said, adding that only 18 of the bodies were identifiable.

Local hospitals struggled to cope with the number of dead and wounded. When the morgue at Rahim Yar Khan District hospital filled up, medics said bodies had to be sent to Multan District hospital, some three hours away.

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan tweeted: '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 inquiry to be completed on an urgent basis.'

President Arif Alvi 'expressed profound grief on the loss of precious lives in the tragic blast', his office said on Twitter.

'Terrible... train tragedy with gas cylinder carried by passenger exploding,' tweeted human rights minister Shireen Mazari.

Mazari said the train was the Tezgam, one of Pakistan's oldest and most popular train services, which runs between the garrison city of Rawalpindi, adjacent to Islamabad, and the southern port city of Karachi.

Dozens of people could be seen crowded onto the tracks staring at the three burning carriages, which had been disconnected from the rest of the train, television images showed.

Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where the railways have seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment.

In July, at least 23 people were killed in the same district when a passenger train coming from the eastern city of Lahore rammed into a goods train that had stopped at a crossing.

Accidents often happen at unmanned crossings, which frequently lack barriers and sometimes signals.
Prime Minister Imran Khan was elected last year on promises to build an Islamic welfare state but an ongoing economic slowdown and austerity measures have hampered efforts to invest in infrastructure and social programmes.

Rural Punjab has witnessed several gruesome accidents over the years, including an oil tanker explosion in 2017 when more than 200 people were killed after the truck crashed on a main highway in central Punjab province while carrying some 50,000 litres of fuel from Karachi to Lahore.

It exploded minutes later, sending a fireball through crowds from a nearby village who had gathered to scavenge for the spilled fuel, despite warnings by the driver and police to stay away.

Source :Daily Mail UK

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