148 charred to death as oil tanker explodes in Pak

Claudine Rigal
Juin 26, 2017

ISLAMABAD―At least 123 people were killed and scores injured in a fire that erupted after an oil tanker overturned in central Pakistan early Sunday and crowds rushed to collect fuel, an official said.

One hundred people were injured as a result of the incident, government officials said.

"The United Nations stands ready to endeavour to support the authorities with any support they may require", it added.

An eyewitness said that soon after the tanker skidded off the road, local people from nearby villages rushed to the site and later on also telephoned other people to collect the petrol. Some of the most badly burned were evacuated by army helicopters to Multan, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. Then the wreck exploded, engulfing people in flames as they screamed in terror.

"The fire moved so fast", said Mr Ahmad.

Local news channels showed black smoke billowing skyward and scores of burned bodies, as well as rescue officials speeding the injured to hospital and army helicopters ferrying the wounded.

He said that when the fire subsided, "we saw bodies everywhere, so many were just skeletons".

It is thought up to 20 children may be among the dead.

Muhammad Hanif, 40, who suffered burns, told reporters at the Victoria Hospital that he was present at his house when his cousin called him informing that the village people were rushing to the highway to collect "free oil".

"Someone should tell me about my beloved sons".

At least 73 motorbikes and several cars were destroyed in the blast, which occurred the day before Pakistan celebrates Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday at the end of Ramadan.

The tanker was traveling on the main highway from the southern port city of Karachi to the Punjab provincial capital of Lahore when the driver lost control of the vehicle.

The Pakistani prime minister and his family had been staying in Saudi Arabia for last ten days of Ramazan where they performed Umrah.

Mohammed Salim ran toward the smoke carrying buckets of water and sand, but said the heat was too intense to reach those in need. And with many bodies said to have been burnt beyond recognition, it's being reported that DNA sampling will have to be used to identify them.

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