Around 13 people, including children, died and 12 were injured when a passenger wagon caught fire after its CNG cylinder exploded near Setharja, in Khairpur district, on Tuesday evening.
There were around 25 passengers – all of them workers at a cotton factory, in the coach which was going to Setharja from Hingorja. The CNG cylinder of the bus exploded near its destination and the vehicle caught fire. The residents rushed to the scene and tried to put out the fire.
Thirteen people were already dead by the time the fire was put out. They were shifted to hospitals in Setharja and Hingorja with those injured. Around eight of total 12 injured are said to be in a critical condition.
The names of those who died include, Rani, 16, Anjoo, 12, Ayal, 10, Ramko, seven, Bhagwan Das, 15, Honari, 13, Dahi, eight, and others. Dhano Mal, Manzoor, Ladho, Shadho and others were injured.
The passengers were from Bagri community and were returning from work at Star Cotton Factory in Hingorja. The driver of the wagon, Ghulam Shabbir, and the cleaner, Akhtar, escaped after the incident.
Another passenger coach caught fire near Pir jo Goth on November 2 with 20 passengers while on its way to Ahmedpur, causing the deaths of 13 people. Khairpur Deputy Commissioner Ghulam Abbas Baloch took notice of the incident and slapped a ban under Section 144 on plying CNG vehicles in the district.
On November 3, the police stopped all the CNG vehicles and directed the owners to provide fitness certificates. But, after only 24 hours all of them were released because of political pressure. The government had announced a compensation of Rs100,000 for the heirs of those who died and Rs50,000 for the injured, but so far not a single penny has been paid.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2011.