70 dead after cooking stoves explode on Pakistan train
At least 70 people have died after two gas cooking stoves exploded on a train in Pakistan on Thursday, 31 October 2019. Officials said many others have been injured and some are in a critical condition. The ensuing fire destroyed three of the train's carriages as it approached the town of Liaquatpur in Punjab. Several of the injured jumped off the train, many to their deaths, after the fire broke out. Minister for railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said some of the passengers were trying to prepare breakfast on the stove as the train was moving, violating railway rules.
He told media, "Two cooking stoves blew up. They were cooking, they had [cooking] oil which added fuel to fire." He added, "Most deaths occurred from people jumping off the train." Minister Ahmed said that passengers with little money often bring their own small gas stoves on the trains to cook their meals, despite the rules.
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.
TV footage from the scene showed the flames raging through the train as fire fighters struggled to get it under control.
Another train has been dispatched to bring stranded passengers to the city of Rawalpindi.
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.
Rescue workers searched the charred wreckage for survivors. Authorities said they were still trying to identify the victims.
Ahmed said the train had been travelling from the southern port city of Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province, to the city of Rawalpindi when the fire broke out.
Pakistan's military said troops were also participating in the rescue operation.
President Arif Albi and Prime Minister Imran Khan have issued statements expressing their grief over the accident.
It is the latest tragedy to hit the country's dilapidated and poorly maintained rail system. Eleven people were killed in an accident in July; four in another accident in September. In 2005, around 130 people were killed when a train rammed into another at a station in Sindh province, and a third train hit the wreckage.
Source: Sky News