120 Burnt to Death in Pakistan City, Had Rushed to Collect Oil from Flipped Tanker

New Delhi: More than 100 people were burnt to death and dozens injured when an oil tanker overturned and exploded on a highway near Bahawalpur city in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Sunday morning, Pakistani media reported.

The News International reported that the tanker skidded off the road and overturned in Ahmedpur Sharqia area of the city, following which villagers from nearby areas flocked to the site to collect the oil spilling out of the tanker. The massive vehicle caught fire and exploded, killing at least 123 people, the report said. 

At least 75 people were injured and moved to a nearby hospital. The death toll was feared to rise as many of the injured were said to be in critical condition. 

Dr. Rizwan Naseer, director of Punjab provincial rescue services, said rescuers were collecting the badly burned bodies, many beyond recognition.

The Pakistani military said it was sending army helicopters to evacuate the wounded, with hospitals placed on high alert. 

Eyewitnesses said about 30 motorcycles that had carried villagers to the accident site lay in charred ruins nearby. Eight other vehicles were destroyed, they said.

The disaster came on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramzan. While Saudi Arabia and most other Muslim countries celebrated the holiday on Sunday, Pakistanis will celebrate on Monday.

Residents were told of the leaking fuel over a loudspeaker atop the local mosque, said Rana Mohammad Salim, deputy commissioner of Bahawalpur, near where the tanker overturned.

Salim said some of the seriously injured have been moved to Multan. The dead included men, women and children, he said.

Imran Shah, a spokesman for the highway police, told a local TV channel that police moved quickly to redirect traffic but couldn't stop the scores of villagers who raced to collect the fuel.

Pakistan has an appalling record of fatal traffic accidents due to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

At least 62 people including women and children were killed in southern Pakistan in 2015 when their bus collided with an oil tanker, starting a fierce blaze that left victims burnt beyond recognition.
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