Pakistan: Train fire kills dozens after cooking accident

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An exploding gas cooker has caused a massive fire that ripped through three carriages of a speeding train in Pakistan. Passengers were reportedly preparing breakfast whilst the train was moving.

At least 71 people died after a gas stove exploded on a train in southeast Pakistan, officials confirmed Thursday.

“Two cookers blew up. They had oil which added fuel to fire,” Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told local broadcaster Geo.

Most of the deaths were caused when people jumped from the train to escape the flames, he added.

A further 30 people were injured in the fire that destroyed three train carriages. Of these, 12 are in a critical condition, said Amir Taimur Khan, police chief of Rahim Yar Khan, the city close to where the accident took place.

Local television footage showed carriages on fire with smoke and flames billowing through the windows.

Emergency services predict the death toll will rise.

Reactions from Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his condolences to the families of the victims via Twitter.

He also ordered an urgent investigation.

Shireen Mazari, Pakistan’s minister for human rights tweeted: “A tragedy that could have been avoided but ever since I can recall while traveling by train no baggage check or restrictions enforced.”

Why was a gas canister on the train?

Railways Minister Ahmed said an inquiry will be launched into how the fuel was brought onto the train.

Pakistani journalist Zahid Hussein told DW that although cooking stoves are on the list of prohibited items, “security checks on trains are very lax.” The long transit times involved often lead poorer passengers to cook their meals on the trains, he said

Train accidents are common in Pakistan where its aging railways have seen a lack of investment as well as mismanagement and corruption.

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

kmm/rt (dpa/AFP/)

DW

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