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Deadly train fire reported in Myanmar

Blaze claims 25 lives as it engulfs villagers trying to collect fuel spilled by coaches in Sagaing, state media says.
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2012 03:38
Local villagers collecting fuel after a train derailment were burnt to death in the Sagaing region [AFP]

A train transporting petrol to northwestern Myanmar has overturned and caught fire, killing 25 people and injuring 62, state media reports say.

The train en route from Mandalay with seven petrol coaches and two diesel coaches overturned at Chat-gyi station, Kanbalu township, on Friday morning, The New Light of Myanmar reported on Saturday.

A witness, Myint Kyi, told the US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia that the dead included 16 men, seven women and two bodies so badly burnt that their gender was not immediately apparent.

Local villagers collecting the fuel were burned to death in the ensuing blaze, according to the information ministry website.

It was not immediately clear from how many of the injured were civilians.

The fire broke out at about 10am (03:30 GMT) in Kanbalu in Sagaing region, bordering India, it said.

"While some people from nearby villages were collecting the oil, the fire spread and 25 of them were killed and 62 injured, according to initial information," the ministry said.

It said authorities were investigating the accident and the casualties had been shifted to hospitals in the area.

Photographs posted on the ministry's website showed workers spraying water on to the smoldering wreckage of the train.

The charred remains of victims and abandoned buckets lay scattered around the scene of the fire.

Further information was not immediately available and efforts to contact local officials in the remote region were unsuccessful.

Safety standards are generally poor in Myanmar, which is emerging from decades of military rule under a new quasi-civilian government, and the decrepit rail system has suffered from years of under-investment.

Long isolated under almost half a century of junta rule, Myanmar has embarked upon a rapid series of political and economic reforms under President Thein Sein, who is now wooing foreign investors to boost the ailing economy.

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