A huge fire brought on by a cooking gas cooker erupted Thursday to a train traveling in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, killing at 715 passengers, officials said. Flames roared throughout the railway cars as the train approached the city of Liaquatpur at Punjab, they stated, the most recent tragedy to strike Pakistan’s dilapidated, poorly preserved and mismanaged rail system. Survivors recounted horrible scenes of passengers crying as they jumped through the chimney and away from the train, flames billowing in the carriages.
“We can hear people yelling and yelling for help,” said Chaudhry Shujaat who had boarded the train only a couple of hours before with his spouse and 2 kids. “I thought we’d die. We felt helpless. He added that the death toll had climbed steadily since the ancient morning. Kaleem Ullah, an official with the district crisis services, states of the 43 people injured, 11 were in crucial condition. Several of the wounded had jumped off the train — most to their deaths — following the fire broke out and until it finally screeched to a stop, stated Ahmed. Survivors said it required the train almost 20 minutes to come to a stop following the fire broke out and passengers started yelling for assistance. Some pulled emergency cords that weave throughout the train to inform that the conductor. Ghulam Abbas, a passenger who’d gotten to the train at town of Nawabshah in neighboring Sindh state with his spouse and two kids, recounted watching panicked passengers leaping off. “We learned later that most of these had expired,” he said. His spouse, Sulai Khan Bibi, said she had been horrified what could happen to both little children. Safety regulations are usually ignored by the overcrowded trains.
Ahmed stated in Thursday’s disaster, it had been cooking oil transported on the train with a bunch of Islamic missionaries called Tableeqi-e-Jamaat who had caught fire after the first cooking stove burst, leading to the degree of the ward and its speedy progress. Railway official Shabir Ahmed stated bodies of passengers were sprinkled within a mile-wide region around the site. People from neighboring villages hurried to the train, carrying buckets of water and shovels to help douse the fires. “However, it was hopeless,” explained Ahmed. Through the morning, rescue inspectors and workers sifted through the charred wreckage, searching for survivors and helping the wounded. Neighborhood Pakistani TV footage from the scene showed that a massive blaze raging as firefighters fought to get it beneath control. Train injuries in Pakistan are frequently the consequence of poor railroad infrastructure and official neglect. Media reports on Thursday imply that railways officials didn’t detect if passengers boarded the train, carrying human gas stoves.