At least 73 train passengers were killed and dozens injured, some of them critically, when a gas cylinder exploded while they were preparing breakfast, reports say.
Cookers containing oil also blew up adding fuel to the fire which ripped through three compartments of the speeding Tezgam (‘fast runner’) train, above, (Photo credit: Radio Pakistan) near Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab province.
The train was heading to Rawalpindi from the port city of Karachi.
Some of passengers died while trying to escape the inferno by jumping off the train. Forty-seven bodies were burned beyond recognition.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said two of the compartments gutted were carrying members of Tableeghi Jamaat, a non-political society engaged in spreading faith, heading to Raiwand.
Ahmed blamed his own ministry’s authorities for their failure to insist on checking passengers’ luggage thoroughly.
The minister announced a compensation of $9,690 to the family of the dead and $704 for those injured.
Echoing Ahmed’s views, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said the train fire could have been averted had baggage checks been strictly carried out.
In July this year, 23 people were killed near Sadiqabad in Rahim Yar Khan district when the passenger train, Akbar Express, from Lahore hit a stationary goods train at a crossing.
A month earlier, three people were killed when the passenger train, Jinnah Express, rammed into a goods wagon near Hyderabad.
Unmanned crossings and signal failures are blamed for several train accidents.
Pakistan Railways is mired in corruption and cash crunch.