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73 ppl killed inTezgam train fire

01 November, 2019

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Fire swept through a train on Thursday, killing 73 people and injuring nearly 40 after a gas canister that passengers were using to cook breakfast exploded. The fire destroyed three of Tezgam carriages near Rahim Yar Khan. It was on its way to Rawalpindi from Karachi, with many people traveling to a religious gathering.

“Two stoves blew up when people were cooking breakfast, the presence of kerosene with the passengers in the moving train further spread the fire,” Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said. Many of the passengers 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, the minister said. Shortly before the fire broke out, the conductor had ordered some passengers to stop cooking but they had ignored him, he added.

But 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. “People were jumping off, some of them were on fire,” a witness said. Some of the victims were burned beyond recognition, said the deputy commissioner of the district, Jameel Ahmad. “We’ll have to carry out DNA tests,” he said. Nearly 40 people were injured, many with serious burns, he added.

Many of the passengers were heading to a conference organised by the Tablighi Jamaat, officials said.

District Emergency Officer Punjab Emergency Service Rescue-1122 Bahawalpur region Baqir Hussain told media the rescue operation at the incident site in Tanwri area of Chani Goth had been completed and all bodies and injured shifted to different hospitals. Replying to a question, he said the fire had been completely extinguished.

Medical officials at Tehsil Headquarters Hospital (THQ) in Liaquatpur said 32 injured were brought to the THQ whose identification had been ascertained. They said six of the injured belonged to Karachi, one each to Sadiqabad, Khanpur and Abbottabad and remaining all hailed from Mirpur Khas district of Sindh province. They said some of the injured were referred to Multan hospital due to their critical condition. The injured had also been shifted to Bahawal Victoria Hospital (BVH) in Bahawalpur and Sheikh Zaid Hospital in Rahimyar Khan, where more ill-fated passengers succumbed to their injuries.

Baqir said as many as 17 bodies were severely burnt and could not been recognized, adding the DNA test of the bodies will be carried out for the identification purpose. Officials said bogies No 3 and 4 were booked for members of Tableeghi Jamaat who were travelling to attend religious gathering in Raiwind. District Police Officer Rahimyar Khan Ameer Taimore Khan also said a group of passengers started preparing breakfast on a gas cylinder stove that caused explosion and fire eruption in the train. “Several passengers died and injured in the train fire belonged to Mirpur Khas, Tando Aadam, Haiderabad and other areas of Sindh province who were travelling to attend a religious gathering,” he said. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Bahawalpur said that army personnel and a helicopter of Army Aviation were immediately dispatched to the affected site. “Army helicopter transported injured to hospitals in Bahawalpur and Multan,” it said, adding that army personnel joined civil rescuers to carry out rescue and relief operation at the site. Army doctors and paramedics also provided the injured with first aid and medical treatment.

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