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74 killed, 44 injured in Pakistan train fire

Filed on October 31, 2019 | Last updated on October 31, 2019 at 12.02 pm
Pakistan, train, fire,Punjab, Pakistan train fire

(Photo: Reuters)

The fire was caused when a gas cylinder being carried by a passenger exploded.

A fire swept through a Pakistani train on Thursday, killing 74 people and injuring nearly 44 after a gas canister that passengers were using to cook breakfast exploded, the minister of railways said.

The fire destroyed three of the train's carriages near the town of Rahim Yar Khan in the south of Punjab province. It was on its way to Rawalpindi, near the capital, from the southern city of Karachi, with many people travelling to a religious gathering.

It was the worst disaster on Pakistan's accident-plagued railway system in nearly 15 years.

"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 Rashid Ahmed told Geo television.

Many of the dead 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, Ahmed said.

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.

"People were jumping off, some of them were on fire," a witness told Geo.

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