At least 65 persons are feared dead after a train travelling between the Pakistani cities of Karachi to Rawalpindi caught fire on Thursday.
The train was said to have caught fire after a gas cylinder used by passengers to cook breakfast exploded, a senior Pakistani government official said.
Dozens of people crowded along the tracks staring at the burning carriages, which had been disconnected from the rest of the train, television images showed.
Firefighters later rushed to the scene near Rahim Yar Khan district, extinguishing the blaze. Rescue workers and the army could also be seen, as bodies were carried away covered in white sheets.
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Pakistan’s Minister for Railways, said the some of the passengers – a good number who were pilgrims travelling to one of Pakistan’s biggest annual religious gatherings – died as they tried to jump off the burning train.
“Two cooking stoves blew up. They were cooking, they had [cooking] oil which added fuel to fire,” Ahmed said.
Many Pakistanis carry food on long train journeys, but the minister insisted that the transporting of gas cylinders was banned and acknowledged that it was a common problem.
Ahmed said he had ordered an investigation into the incident.
Jamil Ahmed, the District Deputy Commissioner said some of the victims were so badly burnt they could not be identified, and they would need to use DNA to find out who had died.
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, said he was “deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy” on Twitter, adding that he had ordered an “immediate inquiry”.
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