At least 65 passengers have been confirmed killed and more than three dozen wounded after a train caught fire in south-eastern Pakistan on Thursday, officials said, in one of the deadliest rail accidents in the country.
The train was on its way from the southern city of Karachi to Lahore in the east when a fuel cylinder used by passengers to cook breakfast exploded, Railways Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed said.
Ahmed said an inquiry will be launched to find out how the fuel – which is banned on trains – was brought on.
At least three carriages caught fire as a result of the explosion and people started jumping off from the moving train, the minister added.
Local rescue official Baqir Hussain confirmed the numbers and feared the death toll might go up as more bodies were being retrieved after the fire was put out.
More than 200 passengers were on board the burnt carriages, Railways official Junaid Aslam said.
“Only few might have survived,” Hussain said.
Most victims were members of an Islamic preaching group who were travelling to participate in a religious congregation near the city of Lahore.
Most bodies were charred beyond recognition and DNA testing would be conducted to identify the victims, Hussain said.
The burnt carriages were being searched for more bodies now the fire was extinguished, local police chief Ameer Taimur Khan said.
Television footage showed huge flames coming out of burning carriages and a thick black smoke spreading in the air.
Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where many tracks laid by the British rulers during colonial times before 1947 have not been upgraded since.
Besides outdated tracks, bombings by Islamist militants and separatists and a weak safety and security systems are the other causes of hundreds of death in train accidents every year. (dpa/NAN)