Over 65 Persons Killed After Gas Cylinder Explodes On Train

Rescue workers gather beside the burnt-out train carriages after a passenger train caught fire near Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab province on October 31, 2019. At least 65 people were killed and dozens wounded after a passenger train erupted in flames in central Pakistan on October 31, a provincial minister said. PHOTO: RAHIM YAR KHAN, PAKISTAN/AFP

 

At least 65 people were killed and dozens injured after cooking gas cylinders exploded on a train packed with pilgrims in Pakistan on Thursday, some dying after leaping from carriages to escape the inferno, authorities said.

Television footage showed flames pouring out of three carriages as people could be heard crying during the incident, in a rural area of central Punjab province.

Some of the passengers — many of whom were pilgrims travelling to one of Pakistan’s biggest annual religious gatherings — had been cooking breakfast when two of their gas cylinders exploded, Ali Nawaz, a senior Pakistan Railways official, told AFP.

Many Pakistanis carry food on long train journeys, but gas cylinders are banned, and Nawaz said an inquiry had been ordered.

Dozens of people crowded along the tracks staring at the burning carriages, which had been disconnected from the rest of the train, television images showed.

Firefighters later rushed to the scene near Rahim Yar Khan district, extinguishing the blaze. Rescue workers and the army could also be seen, as bodies were carried away covered in white sheets.

“According to information reaching us from the site of the accident, more than 65 people were killed and over 40 injured,” provincial health minister Yasmin Rashid told AFP.

Muhammad Nadeem Zia told AFP that some of the dead were killed by head injuries sustained as they leap from the moving train.

The wounded were being rushed to hospitals in the nearby city of Bahawalpur and elsewhere in Rahim Yar Khan district. Officials said many of the bodies were charred beyond recognition.

“Deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy… My condolences go to the victim’s families & prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured,” tweeted Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“I have ordered an immediate inquiry to be completed on an urgent basis.”

Religious pilgrimage

Khan said the train was the Tezgam, one of Pakistan’s oldest and most popular rail services, which runs between the southern port city of Karachi to the garrison city of Rawalpindi, next to Islamabad.

But the railways official Nawaz said it had been diverted to facilitate religious pilgrims travelling to Lahore.

They were going to attend the annual Tablighi Ijtema, one of Pakistan’s biggest religious gatherings, which sees up to 400,000 people descend on a tented village outside Lahore each year for several days to sleep, say prayers and eat together.

The majority of those killed were pilgrims from southern Sindh province, he said.

The Tablighi Ijtema was founded by religious scholars more than five decades ago and focuses exclusively on preaching Islam.

It usually sees hundreds of camps and sub-camps set up on the dusty site outside Lahore to accommodate people from across Pakistan, giving the gathering a festival feel.

Stalls sell cooked food, raw chicken and meat, vegetables and fruit, even electrical appliances and batteries for mobile phones at a subsidised rate.

 ‘Could have been avoided’

Nawaz said two of the carriages were economy coaches, while one was business class, and that up to 88 passengers can fit into each carriage.

“A tragedy that could have been avoided but ever since I can recall while travelling by train no baggage check or restrictions enforced,” human rights minister Shireen Mazari tweeted.

Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where the railways have seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment.

In July, at least 23 people were killed in the same district when a passenger train coming from the eastern city of Lahore rammed into a goods train that had stopped at a crossing.

Accidents often happen at unmanned crossings, which frequently lack barriers and sometimes signals.

Rural Punjab has witnessed several gruesome accidents over the years, including an oil tanker explosion in 2017 which killed more than 200 people.

The tanker crashed on a main highway. Minutes later it exploded, sending a fireball through crowds who had gathered to scavenge for the spilled fuel.

AFP

Fire Guts Property Worth Millions Of Naira In Ondo

 

Property worth millions of naira have been destroyed by an inferno which occurred at a residential building in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

According to residents of the apartment, the inferno, which was noticed at about 9:30 pm was caused by an electric spark from a room in which the occupant had left his generator on, locked the door and went out.

It was the landlord of the building next to it that was said to have alerted the residents of the inferno.

Subsequently, the door of the room was forced open but before the fire could be put out, it had spread to other rooms and burnt all the property of the occupants.
The victim was also said to have lost a sum of N250,000 to the incident.

17 Killed In Peru Bus Fire

Police officers stand next to the remains of a bus that caught fire an interprovincial bus station in a populous district north of Lima and left 20 people dead on March 31, 2019. At least 20 people were killed and about a dozen injured Sunday night in a bus fire at a Peruvian transport terminal, the emergency services said.
Luka GONZALES / AFP

 

An inferno swept through a bus at an illegal transport terminal in Lima, killing 17 people trapped inside in one of Peru’s worst fire disasters in over a decade, the state prosecutor’s office said Monday.

Most of the victims were trapped on the upper deck of the interprovincial bus in Lima as it prepared to depart the controversial Fiori terminal, fire chief Mario Casaretto said.

“Everyone became trapped in the stairwell leading to the first level when they wanted to get down from the upper level,” Casaretto said.

Onlookers described scenes of panic and cries of terror as flames engulfed those inside.

A grief-stricken Jose Alberto Olivos told local television that he had lost six family members including his wife, children and grandchildren.

“The car was burning, so I ran up and the people, seeing that it was burning, were coming down and I wasn’t able to save my family,” he said.

Much of the vehicle was reduced to a charred metal frame and the corpses of some victims could still be seen in the seats. Others were asphyxiated by smoke on the stairway connecting the upper and lower levels.

Peru’s Transport Chaos

The tragedy reflected the chaos of Peru’s public transport system, particularly in the capital of 10 million people where authorities are overwhelmed by transport problems.

Initial reports said an electrical fault at the rear of the bus triggered the blaze just after 7:30 pm (0030 GMT).

A local mayor suggested that the bus was carrying fuel on the upper deck, where the blaze is reported to have started. The driver and his assistant were held by police for questioning.

Fiori was operating illegally after local authorities closed it in January 2018 for the unauthorized sale of fuel to public buses.

Lima mayor Jorge Munoz said illicit fuel selling was still going on in the terminal. “It seems that, on the second floor of the bus, they were taking fuel” in containers.

Munoz visited the injured in hospital and announced an investigation to punish those responsible.

“I am totally outraged,” he said, recalling that insecurity and other problems had led to the closure of the Fiori terminal last year.

Initially the fire department said at least 20 people had perished in the blaze, but the figure was revised downwards after firefighters had combed through the burnt-out bus.

“At 4:00 am local time the team of prosecutors and six doctors concluded the removal of 17 bodies,” the prosecutor’s office said on Twitter.

Among the dead were four children. Thirteen adults — five women and eight men – also died.

Seven other passengers were injured in the blaze and taken to hospitals.

Lack of Oversight 

An AFP photographer witnessed one woman weeping, her face buried in her hands, while paramedics checked her.

Another survivor, Juan Alarcon, said people were running out of the bus “and I also started to go out and save myself as best I could, and I got out, but it was full of smoke.”

The station is in Lima’s populous northern San Martin de Porres district, from where the bus was to depart on a 470-mile (750 kilometer) trip to the northern city of Chiclayo.

Julio Chavez, the mayor of the local municipality, said that although the terminal had been closed, several bus lines continued to use it because of lack of oversight by the public transport authorities.

“There has been neglect on the part of the authorities,” said Chavez, adding that the country’s transport ministry would have to assume its responsibilities.

The fire was one of the worst in Lima since December 2001, when a fireworks blast caused a market blaze that killed about 300 people.

PHOTOS: Bangladesh Inferno Kills 70

 

Dozens of people were killed in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Thursday in a blaze that ripped through apartment buildings where chemicals were stored.

Fires and building collapses are common in the country — particularly in the multi-billion dollar garment industry — where building regulations are lax and volatile chemicals are often improperly kept.

Below are some more photos from the fire incident that has left at least 70 people dead.

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Death Toll Rises In Abia Pipeline Inferno

Death Toll Rises In Abia Pipeline Inferno

 

The police say more deaths have been recorded following the petroleum pipeline inferno at two villages in Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area of Abia State.

Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Anthony Ogbizi, disclosed this while addressing journalists on Monday at his office in Umuahia, the state capital.

According to him, no fewer than 20 people died in the fire incident.

The police commissioner added that the Command has launched an investigation to ascertain why petroleum product was pumped into the pipeline which was said to be undergoing maintenance.

“We can’t give you an accurate number now. On the whole, for now, we can put the death doll at 24,” he said.

Mr Ogbizi urged families of the victims affected to remain calm and resist the temptation of taking the law into their hands.

He assured them that the relevant government agencies were already putting measures in place to mitigate the effect of the incident and prevent a reoccurrence of such incident.

A portion of the pipeline had exploded in Umueze community on Friday last week, killing more than 16 people in the process.

Eyewitnesses told Channels Television that the incident occurred when some residents attempted to scoop fuel from a wrecked pipeline.

Fire Destroys Part Of Main Bamako Market

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze at the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel in the early hours of Thursday morning. (AFP)

A huge fire ripped through part of the main market in the Malian capital, Bamako, on Monday morning causing widespread damage, local officials said.

No one was killed or injured in the blaze that started at around 0400 GMT (0400 local time) and destroyed shops and stalls.

Authorities have yet to determine the fire’s cause but potential criminal involvement is being considered because three separate fires appear to have started at the same time.

“The bizarre thing is that there were three simultaneous outbreaks of fire,” a security officer at the market, who requested anonymity, told AFP.

“Three fires at the same time, it’s probably on purpose, even if we must wait until the end of the investigation,” he said.

A member of the Malian Association of Retail Merchants estimated that the blaze caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

“Three fires at the same time, that deserves reflexion,” said Adama Sangare, mayor of the Bamako district, who pledged an investigation into the blaze.

There have been major fires at the central market of Bamako before, including in 1993, when it almost completely burned down.

A few months ago, the government launched a major modernisation project, including private companies, that was expected to renovate and extend the market.

AFP

Fire Guts Nkwerre LGA Secretariat In Imo State

Fire, Imo, NkwerreA fire outbreak has occurred at the secretariat of Nkwerre Local Government Area (LGA) in  Imo State, burning down some offices and buildings within the secretariat premises.

However, one person whose identity is yet to be ascertained as of the time of filing this report has been arrested by the security operatives in connection with the inferno.

A witness told Channels Television crew that the fire started at about 6:00 PM on Saturday and lasted for two hours.

According to the witness, the fire was said to have emanated from a bush close to the secretariat where some persons were burning scrubs ahead of the farming season.

He added that the incident prompted people in the area and some staff of the secretariat to raise an unusual alarm which attracted locals to come to their rescue in finding a way to quench the fire.

Unfortunately before the rescue team could salvage the situation, some structures and other government property had already been destroyed by the inferno.

The Transition Committee Chairman of Nkwerre LGA, Mr Paschal Onwukaike, also confirmed the incident during a telephone interview.

He hinted that no vital document was lost in the fire outbreak, adding that the government has commenced investigation on the real cause of the inferno.

Yobe Govt. Disburses N18.3m To Returning IDPs Who Lost Farms

Yobe Govt. Disburses N18.3 Million To Returning IDPs Who Lost FarmsThe Yobe state government has disbursed the sum of 18.3 million naira as immediate support to some farmers among returning Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state.

Beneficiaries were people who suffered losses in an inferno in three communities of Gulani Local Government Areas of the state.

The beneficiaries, 117 in number, were drawn from three communities of Gabai, Ruhu and Kaigeme and were presented with the cash support by the Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) Mr Idi Jidawa.

Presenting the cash support to the victims, Mr Idi Jidawa said government in its magnanimity approved the money as recommended based on the losses as accessed by SEMA.

The victims, according to him, were the first set of returnees who rushed home to cultivate their farmlands sequel to the recapture of their communities by security forces.

“This cash support was approved as we submitted to government and I want to commend the state government for this gesture and hope you will use the money to buy foodstuff that will cater for the needs of the family.

“During the assessment, we discovered that the losses varied and the assistance equally vary depending on the severity of the destruction,” Idi Jidawa said.

He praised the beneficiaries for daring the Boko Haram insurgents to rush home in order to continue with the means of their livelihoods but regretted the inferno which thwarted their efforts.

One of the beneficiaries, Aji Bularafa, applauded the Gaidam administration for the gesture and called on the people of the community to support the Governor towards achieving the transformation agenda.

“We really appreciate this gesture and wish to thank the Governor most sincerely for this magnanimity. This palliative will help us not in small measure,” he said.

Gulani Local Government Area is one of the council areas that suffered insurgency most in Yobe state north east Nigeria.

Over 20 Shops Destroyed In Ilorin Market Fire

fireGoods worth millions of naira were destroyed when a popular market in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State caught fire on Monday.

The inferno engulfed Oja Tuntun market, known for selling of clothes and foodstuff and nobody could ascertain the cause of the fire which started around 2:00 am and destroyed over 20 shops.

The traders lamented the late arrival of men of the fire service and called for urgent rehabilitation and reconstruction of the shops.

Speaking on behalf of the market men and women, the Chairman of the market union, Abdulrasak Lasoju, condemned the long distance the firemen had to travel before arriving at the market.

He urged the state government to build a fire station in the market and also asked for urgent reconstruction of the burnt market as well as its upgrade to a modern one.

A representative of the Chairman of Ilorin West Local Government, Akeem Sulyman, who inspected the damage done by the inferno, expressed the determination of the council to start the reconstruction soon.

Mr Sulyman of the Supervisory Council on Finance, added that although the council was operating on a lean budget at the moment, they would ensure that they bring smiles to the faces of the traders.