Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday expressed grief over the Karachi-Rawalpindi Tezgam Express tragedy.
“Deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy of the Tezgam train. My condolences go to the victims’ families and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. I have ordered an immediate inquiry to be completed on an urgent basis,” Khan wrote on Twitter.
The number of people killed when a passenger train en route to Rawalpindi from Karachi caught fire due to a cooking gas cylinder explosion, has increased to 74, authorities said on Friday.
The Tezgam train was on its way from Karachi to Rawalpindi on Thursday when the gas cylinder carried by a passenger exploded, killing and injuring passengers. The fire destroyed three of the train’s carriages, including two economy and one business class, reports Geo News.
Ali Nawaz, a senior Pakistan Railways official, said some passengers were cooking breakfast when two of their cylinders exploded.
Baqir Hussain, head of the district rescue service, confirmed the death toll on Friday. He said the bodies would be identified through DNA, since many were charred beyond recognition.
The death toll is likely to rise further, with at least 40 more people injured and many in critical condition.
DPO Rahim Yar Khan Ameer Taimoor Khan said the injured were shifted to the District Headquarters Hospital in Liaqatpur and Bahawalpur.
Railway officials said there were more than 200 passengers travelling in the three carriages.
At least 77 passengers were on board on one of the carriages, while 78 others were in the economy class carriage. At least 54 passengers were travelling in the business class carriage.
Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed while speaking to Geo News said: “Two cooking stoves blew up. They were cooking, they had (cooking) oil which added fuel to fire.”
“Most deaths occurred from people jumping off the train,” he added.
Most of the Passengers were travelling to attend the annual Tableeghi Ijtema, one of Pakistan’s biggest religious gatherings, which each year sees up to 400,000 people descend to a village outside Lahore for several days to sleep, pray and eat together.
Train accidents are common in Pakistan. At least 24 people were killed in July when the Akbar Bugti Express travelling from Lahore to Quetta collided with a stationary freight train at the Walhar Railway Station in Sadiqabad Tehsil of Punjab province.
Last year, nine bogies of the Peshawar-bound Khushal Khan Khattak Express from Karachi derailed near Attock. 20 passengers were injured.