President, PM, Shahbaz Sharif, others politicians extend condolences; Sh Rashid announces Rs1.5m for each death, Rs0.5m for each injured as compensation money, Pak army take part in rescue operation
Rahim Yar Khan
At least 74 people were killed and scores injured when a train caught fire near the city area of Liaquatpur on Thursday.
The train, Tezgam, was on its way from Karachi to Rawalpindi, when a gas cylinder carried by a passenger exploded, leaving several dead and injured.
The fire destroyed three of the train’s carriages, including two economy class carriages and one business class carriage.
Head of the district rescue service Baqir Hussain confirmed the news of the death toll. Hussain added the dead bodies will be identified through DNA.
DPO Rahim Yar Khan Ameer Taimoor Khan said the injured have been shifted to DHQ Liaqatpur and Bahawalpur.
Hospital sources said, 10 of the dead bodies have been identified, while 17 are unidentifiable.
A Pakistan Railways official confirmed that the fire was caused by the explosion in a gas cylinder. After the blast, the raging fire engulfed two other coaches as well.
Railway officials said there were more than 200 passengers travelling in the three carriages , in which there were at least 77 passengers in one of the carriages while there 78 in the other economy class carriage. At least 54 passengers were travelling in the business class carriage.
Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid has announced compensation money for the bereaved families of the victims of Tezgam Express blaze incident in Rahim Yar Khan.
In a statement, the minister said that the government has announced to give Rs1.5 million to the deceased of the mishap while Rs0.5 million will also be handed over to the injured as compensation money.
He said that the fire was erupted in train’s economy class by a cylinder blast that occurred in the morning when passengers belonging to a Tableeghi Jamaat were preparing their breakfast.
Many people saved their lives by jumping off the train, he added.
The minister continued that there is a need to strictly follow railway rules as cooking is strictly prohibited in the trains.
The injured are being given best medical treatment at burn units in Kharian and Multan whereas emergency has also been declared in all hospitals of the district, he told.
Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed while speaking to a private TV channel 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.
He added, the train track will be functional in two hours.
He added, men from a tableeghi jammat were travelling in the carriage where the incident occurred. “Bogies were severely damaged by the fire and they have been detached by the rest of the train,” he said.
Rasheed added the fire had been extinguished and cooling efforts were underway.
A passenger of Tezgam train has disputed the statements of Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed that the incident took place due to gas cylinders carried by tableeghi jamaat members.
In a video that went viral, the eyewitness claimed that the fire could not be attributed to the gas cylinder blast as all the cylinders were emptied at the station.
The fire broke out in the AC sleeper where the cylinders were not allowed, he said adding that they were told by railway personnel that it was infact due to a short circuit in the ceiling fan.
He claimed the fan had not been repaired for the past four days.
The eye witness added, there were no fire extinguishers in the carriages and rejected the railways minister’s statement that tableeghi jamaat passengers were behind the incident.
Earlier, head of the district rescue service talking to a TV channel said some of the dead were killed when they jumped from the moving train to escape the flames.
President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed their deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in Tezgam Express fire incident in Rahim Yar Khan. In their separate condolence messages, they condoled with the bereaved families.
The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to provide prompt and best possible medical treatment to those injured in the incident.
Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has expressed profound grief over Tezgam Express fire incident that occurred due to explosion in a gas canister used by passengers to cook breakfast near Talwari Station in Liaquatpur area of Rahim Yar Khan.
Buzdar extended his condolences to the families of the victims and directed the authorities to provide best medical facilities to the injured. Emergency has been imposed in all hospitals of the district.
Pakistan Army soldiers reached the scene of the incident and were helping with the rescue operation, a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
“Pakistan Army soldiers worked with the civil administration to help with the operation. An army aviation helicopter also reached the scene of the incident,” the statement added.
The military’s media wing added, the helicopter transported the injured to the hospital.
“Pakistan Army doctors and paramedics also helped in the relief operation,” ISPR added.
Prominent politicos have expressed their deep sorrow on the Tezgam Express fire incident.