Seventy three people reportedly dead and forty others injured when fire engulfed three bogies of Tezgam Express due to an alleged cylinder explosion at Liaquatpur in Rahim Yar Khan on Thursday morning.
The train was on its way from Karachi to Rawalpindi when the unfortunate occurrence took place.
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.
The people who brought the gas cylinder on board are being said to be from the Tableeghi Jamaat.
Escalation in number of deaths and those that sustained injuries is feared.
Emergency has been declared in healthcare facilities across Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan to tend to the injured, hospitals in Multan have also declared emergency as some patients are being rushed there for treatment.
Federal Minister for Railways, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed expressed tremendous grief and sorrow on the harrowing incident and condoled those whose loved ones have died or are injured due to the fact.
The Minister also requested individuals traveling via trains to not cook over live flames or carry possible flammable substances during travel to safeguard themselves from such tragedies.
He also informed that the train track would be cleared for commute within two hours, the Tableeghi Jamaat members were headed for a religious gathering in Rawalpindi and were trying to cook something over a gas cylinder when a possible leakage resulted in catastrophe.
10 fire extinguishing vehicles of rescue 1122 participated in the efforts to control the blaze, the cooling process is now underway after stabilising the situation.
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.
Pak Army mobilized to help in rescue, relief efforts
Soldiers from the Pakistan Army 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 are working with the civil administration to help with the operation. An army aviation helicopter has reached the scene of the incident,” the statement added.
The military’s media wing added, the helicopter was transporting the injured to the hospital.
“Pakistan Army doctors and paramedics are also helping with the relief operation,” ISPR added.
A Pakistan Army helicopter is also taking part in the relief efforts, shifting the injured from the site of the incident to nearby healthcare facilities.
Eyewitness accounts claim short circuit triggered incident
Eyewitness accounts of the tragic Tezgam express inferno claim a short circuit in the ceiling fan of an air conditioned sleeper bogie of the train.
Witnesses to the incident say that reports of a possible gas cylinder leakage, or explosion are false and did not trigger the flames.
Witnesses also narrated how many of them jumped from the moving vehicle engulfed in flames to save their lives from jeopardy.