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At Least 73 Killed, Scores Injured in Pakistan Train Fire


In a previous incident involving Pakistan railways, two trains collided in Rahim Yar Khan district in Punjab Province on July 11.

At least 65 people were killed when a passenger train caught fire in central Pakistan, a provincial minister said on October 31.

The blaze occurred after an explosion on the train near the town of Rahim Yar Khan in the south of Punjab province. The locomotive was travelling from Karachi to Rawalpindi, local media reported.

Rahim Yar Khan
Rahim Yar Khan

A spokesman for the district emergency services in Punjab, told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that the death toll had reached 73.

Kaleem Ullah, an official with the emergency services, said another 43 people were injured, with 11 still in critical condition

The injured have been sent to a nearby hospital in Punjab's Liaqatpur area.

Authorities say the fire broke out while some of the passengers were preparing breakfast on cooking gas stoves they had brought aboard in violation of rules.

"Two stoves blew up when people were cooking breakfast, the presence of kerosene with the passengers in [the] moving train further spread the fire," Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told Pakistan's Geo television.

Pakistani Train Fire Kills Dozens, Cooking Gas Explosion Blamed
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Many of the passengers were heading to a conference organized by the Tablighi Jamaat Sunni Muslim missionary movement, Ahmed said.

"Most deaths occurred from people jumping off the train," he added.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed deep sorrow on Twitter over the "terrible tragedy." Khan also ordered an urgent investigation into the incident.

Television footage showed flames and smoke pouring from the train's windows after it came to a halt in a field.

Army troops as well as doctors and paramedics have also been dispatched to assist rescue teams in the operation, a statement by the military said.

Pakistan’s decrepit colonial-era railway network is in disrepair due to under-investment and poor maintenance.

In July, 11 people were killed in an accident, and four more died in another one in September.

In 2005, some 130 people were killed when a train rammed into another at a station in Sindh Province, and a third train hit the wreckage.

With reporting by AP, dpa, AFP, dawn.com, Globe TV, and Reuters

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