Pakistan

Oil tanker fire kills 140, injures 100 in Bahawalpur

BAHAWALPUR: At least 140 people were killed and more than 100 injured when an oil tanker overturned due to ‘over speeding’ on National Highway near Ahmedpur Sharqia, Bahawalpur on Sunday morning, ARY News reported.

Rescue officials said when the oil tanker overturned, leakage of oil started from the tanker and people of nearby localities started collecting oil from the tanker. Meanwhile, the tanker caught fire and exploded resulting into killings and injuries.

Reuters has put the death toll at 142 — and they were all those who had rushed to collect leaked fuel. They said the tanker carried up to 25,000 litres of oil which caused a a large number of fatalities when it caught fire.

The accident happened the day before the country celebrates the Eid-ul-Fitr festival, when families get together to celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramazan.

Many bodies were burned beyond recognition and television pictures showed piles of burnt out motorcycles, apparently those of people who were collecting fuel or watching events unfold.

Read: The worst oil tanker fires around the world

Buckets used by locals to collect spilled oil

Images of the crash showed rising flames and a thick plume of smoke, along with charred vehicles. The crash happened near the town of Ahmedpur East, some 670 kilometres (416 miles) south of Islamabad.

 

 

Pic via Twitter

It is feared that the death toll could rise further. The incident occurred in wee hours of the day. The injured and the deceased include children and women as well. It is also reported that some people in the vicinity were smoking cigarettes which triggered the deadly blaze.

In the wake of incident, traffic was suspended on the National Highway route. Subserquently motorway police set up two diversions, near Noorpur Nauranga and the other one near Dera Nawaz. The highway is used by motorists who frequently travel between Bahawalpur and Lahore.

 

Rescue operation is underway and injured are being shifted to the District Headquarters Hospital and Bahawal Victoria Hospital. Many of the injured were shifted to Combined Military Hospital in Multan due to absence of a burns unit centre in Bhawalpur.

VIDEO: Spot of the deadly blaze

 

PM Punjab orders inquiry, compensation

Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has expressed heartfelt deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious human lives in oil tanker incident near Ahmedpur Sharqia.

Taking notice of incident, he has also sought report from the authorities concerned. He directed to provide the best possible medical facilities to injured people.

Later, CM Punjab visited the CMH Multan where announced a compensation for two million rupees and one million each for the injured.

Rana Sanaullah admits ‘govt inaction’ after past incidents

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah condemned the despicable blaze incident that resulted in the loss of 125 lives and said efforts were underway to provide best possible care to those injured.

While speaking to ARY News, Rana Sanaullah said unluckily the oil tanker overturned near a populated area and people began collecting leaked oil into buckets in defiance of the civil authorities’ warning about possible explosion due to highly inflammable chemical oozing from the tanker.

He said dead bodies have been evacuated from the site of the incident, however, they are yet to be identified and added many dead bodies were beyond identification.

Responding to criticism of the provincial government for failing to construct burns units at health facility in Bahawalpur, he said it was not possible for the government to built burns  wards at every hospitals.  “The city where incident occurred had a well equipped hospital to provide first aid to injured and those in precarious condition were being shifted to Lahore and CMH Multan,” he added.

He admitted that such incidents had occurred in past but no steps were taken to prevent any such happening in future and spread awareness in public about running risk of going close to an overturned oil tanker.

‘Speedy rescue operation’

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has expressed deep sorrow over loss of lives in the oil tanker incident.

He also directed provision of full assistance to civil administration in rescue/relief efforts.

According to DG ISPR, ‘Army Aviation helicopters have been sent for evacuation of casualties to hospitals / burn centres. Hospitals have also been placed on high alert.

AFP adds: The country has also long struggled to contain a chronic energy crisis, with regular blackouts suffocating industry and exacerbating anger against the government.

The crash came days after a series of militant attacks killed at least 57 people across the country Friday, unnerving many Pakistanis, with authorities ordering a security crackdown.

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