At least 146 people were killed after an oil tanker overturned and burst into flames in the city of Bahawalpur in Pakistan on Sunday morning, local authorities said. Scores of people were badly injured in the massive blaze as they tried to collect fuel leaking from the vehicle.
Pakistani media reported that the injured people were moved to Bahawal Victoria Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital in critical conditions. The death toll is expected to rise as several of those injured had suffered 70 per cent burn injuries.
The oil tanker caught fire and exploded in the Pul Paka area located near the national highway on which the tragedy occurred. Unconfirmed reports suggest the tanker had overturned because of speeding, and later caught fire.
Pakistan's Geo TV showed a few eyewitnesses saying that some people were smoking at the scene of the accident, which could have started the fire. Several other vehicles, including six cars and 12 motorbikes, were engulfed in the fire. Dawn reported that two fire engines were involved in the rescue operations and that the blaze was eventually brought under control.
Reports said that the identities of a number of victims may only be established by DNA sampling, as the bodies were badly burnt in the incident.
Major General Asif Ghafoor, the official spokesperson of Pakistani military, said that the Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had expressed his grief in the lives lost in the oil tanker fire.
Ghafoor said that the Pakistani military has been directed to provide of full assistance to the civil administration in rescue and relief efforts. "Army Aviation helicopters sent for evacuation of casualties to hospitals/burn centres. Hospitals placed on high alert," he added.