Over 150 dead as overturned fuel truck explodes in Pakistan

An oil tanker crashed on a road in Pakistan on Sunday and at least 148 people, many of whom had rushed to collect leaking fuel, were killed when it exploded, apparently after someone lit a cigarette, officials said.

The death toll from an oil tanker fire in Pakistan has risen to 153, with dozens more in a critical condition, and the fatalities are expected to increase.

Residents of a nearby village had been told about the leaking fuel over a loudspeaker at a local mosque, senior local government official Rana Mohammad Saleem Afzal told state television.

Regional police chief Raja Riffat said residents from the village Ramzanpur Joya rushed to the site to collect fuel and a “large number” of people on motorcycles also came.

Dr. Javed Iqbal at Bahawalpur’s Victoria Hospital said most of the patients suffered burns to upward of 80 percent of their bodies.

Police had tried to clear the area before the tanker exploded but people ignored them, Khan said, adding that the initial crash had blocked the road, causing a traffic tailback.

“The fire moved so fast”, he said.

Mohammed Salim ran toward the smoke carrying buckets of water and sand, but said the heat was too intense to reach those in need. “They were screaming for help”, said Abdul Malik, one of the first police officers to arrive at the scene.

When the flames subsided, he said, “we saw bodies everywhere. The people who were alive were in really bad shape”, he said after the fire had been put out.

A soldier stands guard amid burnt out cars and motorcycles at the scene of an oil tanker explosion in Bahawalpur, Pakistan June 25, 2017.

The accident happened the day before Pakistan celebrates the Eid al-Fitr festival, when families get together to celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Emergency was declared in the hospitals and doctors and paramedical staff were called in from other districts to cope with the calamity.

The official spokesperson of Pakistan Armed Forces tweeted that helicopters sent for evacuation of casualties to hospitals and burn centers.

Numerous bodies were burned beyond recognition, said Naseer.

He says numerous bodies were burned beyond recognition and will have to be identified through DNA testing.

An estimated 20 children were among the dead, he said.

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