Oil tanker inferno kills above 138 in Bahawalpur
BAHAWALPUR (92 News) – An overturned oil tanker exploded killing more than 138 people in Bahawalpur on Sunday, as most of the victims had gathered round when spilt fuel from the stricken vehicle ignited.
The ill-fated incident happened at about 6:30am local time on Sunday when large crowds of people gathered at a capsized oil tanker site to collect the spilled out oil on a national highway in Ahmad Pur Shaqia, a sub district under Bahawalpur, which lies about 400 km southwest of Lahore, capital of Punjab.
The oil tanker turned turtle due to burst tires, while the cause of the fire is still under investigation, said local police.
People of the area and passersby had started gathering fuel when the tanker exploded, burning everybody on and around the spot. Serious burn victims, several in critical condition, were airlifted by helicopter to hospitals in Bahawalpur and nearby cities for treatment.
“According to the initial reports, somebody tried to light a cigarette, and when the spilt fuel caught fire, leading to the tanker’s explosion,” Jam Sajjad Hussain, spokesman for the rescue workers service said.
Reports speculated that the fire could have been caused by smokers on the site. Fire engines were dispatched to the site following the report of the oil tanker fire, said local fire department officials, adding that the fire has been put off.
A total of 75 motorbikes and six vehicles were destroyed in the fire as many people from nearby villages came on motorbikes to collect the oil spilled out from the capsized oil tanker after the incident occurred.
The country’s roads are notoriously dangerous, with poor vehicle maintenance and reckless driving contributing to the problem.
Army helicopters were dispatched to ferry casualties to hospitals, army spokesman Major Gen Asif Ghafoor said in a tweet.
Some victims may only be identified by DNA sampling as bodies were badly burned in the incident, reports say.