By Juthy Saha
Two cooking gas stoves exploded on a Pakistan train, killing at least 73 people. More than 43 people injured, 11 are still in critical condition.
The emergency services said, “the ensuing fire destroyed three of the train’s carriages as it approached the town of Liaquatpur in Punjab, about 150km south of the city of Multan on Thursday morning”.
Three of the carriages were engulfed by flames, with dark smoke pouring out of the windows. Witnesses said they heard trapped passengers crying and screaming.
Media reports suggested that railway officials did not notice passengers carrying individual gas stoves onto the train. However, safety regulations are often ignored on overcrowded trains.
It is the latest tragedy to hit the country’s poorly maintained rail system. Eleven people were killed in an accident in July; four in another accident in September.
Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said some of the passengers were trying to prepare breakfast on the stove. passengers with little money often bring their own small gas stoves on the trains to cook their meals, violating railway rules.
He told, “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.”
The critically injured are being taken in ambulances to the city of Multan, which is the largest city nearest to the site of the accident. Authorities said they were still trying to identify the victims.
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, 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 immediate inquiry to be completed on an urgent basis.”
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