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142 burnt alive as oil tanker catches fire in Bahawalpur

SAMAA | - Posted: Jun 25, 2017 | Last Updated: 5 years ago
Posted: Jun 25, 2017 | Last Updated: 5 years ago

At least 142 people were burnt to death when an oil tanker caught fire in Bahawalpur's Ahmedpur Sharkia town on Sunday morning, according to officials.

Over 80 people, including children, sustained severe burn injuries when they reportedly gathered to collect oil from the leaking tanker.

They were taken to Bahawal Victoria Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital Sharqia in critical condition, said Rescue 1122 Director-General Dr Rizwan Naseer. Most of those taken to the hospitals got 70% burn injuries, while more deaths are feared.

People in the area had gathered to collect fuel that was leaking from the oil tanker after it toppled over, said rescue sources.

Witnesses said some people in the vicinity were smoking cigarettes, which could have ignited the inferno.

Dozens of vehicles, including 75 motorcycles and four cars, were engulfed in the blaze that erupted in Pul Paka near the National Highway, an area located in the middle of the city. Most of the affected people were residents of the locality nearby, while others were passing by on the route.

According to rescue sources, identities of the deceased cannot be ascertained without obtaining their DNA sample, as their bodies were badly burnt in the incident.

Bahawal Victoria Hospital, which is an hour away from the site of the incident, does not have a burns ward.

Although the inferno has been controlled, the road has yet to be cleared. Besides, rescue work was underway as some of the bodies stuck in the wreck were being taken out.

The motorway authorities have created diversions on the National Highway so that traffic flow is not impeded. The volume of traffic on the route is likely to increase as people would be using the National Highway to travel to their hometowns for Eidul Fitr that is expected to be celebrated in many parts of Pakistan on Monday (tomorrow).

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has condemned the incident and demanded the authorities concerned to provide the relevant report. He also sent a helicopter for rescue purposes.

Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa, PM Nawaz Sharif and PTI Chairperson Imran Khan expressed condolences.

Four army helicopters with capacity of 50 passengers each are shifting the dead and injured to the hospital. Army jawans are also busy conducting the rescue operation.

This is not the first such tragedy before Eid this year. Recently, there have been two blasts in Parachinar and another in Quetta, claiming a large number of lives. - ASMAA
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