At least 73 persons died and several others were injured when a train caught fire near Liaquatpur in Pakistan. According to reports, three coaches caught fire when a gas cylinder used by passengers in a coach to boil eggs exploded. All three coaches were destroyed in the fire.
The train named Tezgam Express was travelling from Karachi to Rawalpindi when the incident happened. The blast was so powerful that 16 bodies were charred beyond recognition.
The business class coach where the cylinder exploded were booked by members of Tabligi Jamaat, an evangelical Islamic preachers. Ijtema is a congregation of Muslims which is an essential part of Tablighi Jamaat. Often referred to as a show of strength of the Muslims, the 3-day event is all about moral reform of individuals and often described as ‘making Muslims true Muslims’.
They were boiling eggs on a gas stove for breakfast on Thursday morning. But accidentally the gas cylinder exploded, causing a massive fire. The raging fire engulfed two nearby economy coaches of the train. While many passengers succumbed to the fire, some of them died when they tried to jump from the moving train to escape from the fire.
Fire tenders and other emergency teams immediately rushed to the site and carried out the rescue operation. Bodies and injured were shifted to the District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ). Pakistan Army contingents have also been sent to the area to take part in rescue and relief activities. An Army Aviation Helicopter was used to airlift the injured persons to hospitals.
Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad blamed the passengers for the tragedy, saying Railways was not at fault. He said that an enquiry will be conducted to find out how Taleeghi Jamaat members carried gas cylinders and stoves and used them in the coach.
Sheikh said that the passengers were using two stoves to cook food in the coach. He informed that they had cooking oil which added fuel to the fire.
Tablighi Jamaat eye witness on Tezgam contradicts claim of Sheikh Rasheed that Tablighi Jamaat members were responsible for the fire. Says fire caused by short circuit and safety system of the train was completely dysfunctional. pic.twitter.com/cbQzoG9UOE
— Murtaza Ali Shah (@MurtazaViews) October 31, 2019
On the other hand, an eyewitness and a member of Taleeghi Jamaat contradicts the official version that the member of the organisation was responsible for the fire. He said that the fire was caused by short-circuit in the coach and the safety system of the train was not working.
Deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy of the Tezgam train. My condolences go to the victims’ families & prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. I have ordered an immediate inquiry to be completed on an urgent basis.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 31, 2019
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan tweeted that he is deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy and offered condolences for the families of victims and prayers for the injured. He informed that he has ordered an immediate inquiry to be completed on an urgent basis.