Lahore : At least 140 people were killed and scores injured in a fire break out after an oil tanker overturned in Bahawalpur early Sunday and crowds rushed to collect fuel, an official said.
The tanker carrying 40,000 litres of fuel overturned on a main highway while travelling from Karachi to Lahore, near the town of Ahmadpur East in Punjab province.
The charred wreckage of dozens of motorcycles and cars could be seen scattered on the highway, along with kitchen utensils, pots, water coolers, jerrycans and buckets which victims had brought to collect the petrol.
The massive fire injured at least 120 people who were shifted to Victoria Hospital for medical assistance. However; the death toll is rising due to the non-availability of burn unit and lack of facilities in emergency as it hindered the treatment of the patients.
Regional police chief Raja Riffatt and senior local government official Rana Muhammad Saleem Afzal, speaking to PTV confirmed that 123 people had been killed. Afzal said more than 100 were wounded.
“Many bodies could not be identified as they have been charred very badly,” Riffat said.
Punjab provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah has said that DNA tests were being used to identify the dead. He said the driver of the tanker had survived the crash and been taken into custody.
Pakistan Motorway Police spokesman Imran Shah told AFP they received a call about the accident at around 6.30 am.
Motorway police raced to the scene and tried to keep people away from the tanker, he said, adding that they were ignored as residents continued filling their containers with fuel.
“When it turned over the residents of the nearby village of Ramzanpur Joya rushed to the site with buckets and other containers, and a large number of people on motorcycles also came and started collecting the spilling fuel,” Riffat told AFP.
“After about 10 minutes the tanker exploded in a huge fireball and enveloped the people collecting petrol.” Eye witnesses say that some people were smoking cigarettes which could have ignited the inferno.
Punjab CM has also summoned report of the tragedy from the concerned authorities.CM Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif expressed deep sense of sorrow and grief over the loss of precious human lives in the tragic incident of oil tanker near Ahmad Pur Sharqiya Bahawalpur.
CM expressed sympathy and condolence with the bereaved families and directed the administration to provide best medical facilities to the injured persons.