An exploding gas cylinder used for cooking has killed at least 71 people with dozens more injured on a passenger train in central Pakistan on Thursday (Oct 31), authorities said.
The fire quickly spread along three carriages causing many to jump from the moving train.
The wounded were being rushed to hospitals in the nearby city of Bahawalpur and elsewhere in Rahim Yar Khan district, an official said, adding that only 18 of the bodies were identifiable.
“Two cooking stoves blew up. They were cooking, they had (cooking) oil which added fuel to fire,” Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said earlier.
“Most deaths occurred from people jumping off the train,” he added.
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.
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
The passengers were going to attend the annual Tablighi Ijtema, one of Pakistan’s biggest religious gatherings, which sees up to 400,000 people descend on a tented village outside Lahore each year for several days to sleep, say prayers and eat together.
Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where the railways have seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment.