By M Zulqernain :
LAHORE A MASSIVE fire broke out on a moving train in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province on Thursday after two gas cylinders exploded while some passengers were cooking breakfast, killing at least 74 people, mostly Islamic preachers travelling to attend a religious congregation. The train, Tezgam Express, was on its way to Lahore from Karachi when the fire broke out early morning, gutting three bogies which had over 200 passengers, including women and children, at Liaquatpur near Rahim Yar Khan, some 400 kms from Lahore, authorities said.
District Emergency Officer RYK Baqir Hussain has confirmed that 74 passengers lost their lives in the fire. Most deaths occurred from people jumping off the train, the authorities said, adding that the toll could rise further as more than 40 passengers have suffered severe burn injuries.
Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said that most of the victims belonged to the Tableeghi Jamaat (Islamic preachers) who were going to Lahore to attend a major annual congregation at Raiwind. Two gas stoves carried by some passengers blew up when they were preparing breakfast on the speeding train in violation of rules.