Distraught relatives have gathered for the first funerals of some of the scores of people killed when a fire ripped through a crowded train in Pakistan, with many of the victims also residents of a single town.
Sobbing family members crowded an official building in Mirpurkhas overnight on Thursday as the first bodies covered in white cloth began arriving by ambulance from the scene of the disaster, about 90 kilometres (56 miles) from the nearest major urban centre, Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab province.
After morning Friday prayers, with women watching from nearby rooftops, more than 100 men attended the first funeral – of a car mechanic named Mohammad Saleem, who was in his late 40s.
It was held at the Bismillah Mosque, from which at least 42 pilgrims had left to board the train one day earlier bound for a religious festival near Lahore.
Muhammad Imran from Mirpurkhas fractured both his legs and one arm when he jumped from the moving train to save himself, said his brother Mohammad Arif.
“He called me, just saying ‘please come here, please save my life’,” Arif said a day after one of the worst train accidents in Pakistan’s history claimed at least 73 lives.
Imran was on board the Tezgam Express train bound for Raiwind, the central office of the Tableeghi Jamaat religious organisation of which he is a member, to attend its annual ‘ijtema’ gathering.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered an urgent investigation into the accident and the government will provide monetary compensation of 1.5 million Pakistani rupees ($9,650) to the families of those killed, as well as 500,000 rupees ($3,200) each to those injured.