Islamabad: At least 73 passengers lost their lives and over 40 sustained critical burn wounds on Thursday when three carriages of a Tezgam Express caught fire due to explosion in gas canisters purportedly used by Tableeghi Jamaat (preaching party) passengers to cook breakfast near Talwari Station in Liaquatpur area of Pakistan’s Rahim Yar Khan city. The train was bound from Karachi to Rawalpindi.
People could be heard crying for help as fire engulfed the bogies. Many commuters died and several injured when they jumped from the moving train to escape the flames.
The wounded were rushed to hospitals in the nearby city of Bahawalpur and elsewhere in Rahim Yar Khan district.
At least 12 of the injured persons are in critical condition, while 18 dead bodies could not be identified. Women and children were also amongst the victims. Many of the dead and injured were shifted to the District HQ Hospital in Liaqatpur.
Pakistan Railways rel-eased helpline numbers too. Fire fighters and Rescue 1122 teams extinguished the fire and evacuated other passengers from the train to safer places. The affected carriages were separated from the train. A cooling and search operation was carried out.
Pakistan army soldiers assisted in relief and rescue efforts, according to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Asif Ghafoor. An army helicopter was also dispatched from Multan to rescue the injured.
Eyewitnesses have refu-ted claims that the Tezgham Express train inferno occurred due to gas canisters carried by passengers, while claiming that a short circuit might have caused the fire to break out as a burning smell could be felt in the Bogie No. 12 since the previous night.
They claimed that they had informed authorities about the burning smell but no action was taken.
According to police, 207 commuters were travelling in the three bogies with 77, 76 and 54 in each of them. Most of the passengers began their journey from Hyderabad.
Yasmin Rashid, a provincial minister in the Punjab said that the medical staff were providing the best possible treatment for the injured....