Pakistan oil tanker fire: Death toll rises to 165, identification of charred victims underway

Lahore: The death toll rose to 165 in Pakistan's oil tanker fire, one of the deadliest accidents in the country, as five more critically burnt persons, including the driver of the vehicle, succumbed in Punjab province.

 Pakistan oil tanker fire: Death toll rises to 165, identification of charred victims underway

An oil tanker caught fire at a highway near Bahawalpur in Pakistan. AP

Driver Gul Muhammad could not record his statement as he had received 90 percent burn injuries, a Punjab government
spokesman said. "The death toll in Bahwalpur oil tanker tragedy has risen to 165. The driver of the tanker also succumbed to his injuries," he said.

So far, 125 people have been laid to rest after establishing their identity through DNA test, he said, adding that the identification of others was underway.

On Sunday, a day before Eid, the oil tanker which was headed for Lahore overturned on the national highway at the Ahmedpur Sharqia area of the Bahawalpur district, some 400 km from Lahore, after one of its tyres burst and the driver lost control over it.

Some 151 people lost their lives while collecting spilt fuel as the oil tanker caught fire and exploded. Over 140 others suffered injuries in one of the deadliest accidents in the country.

Video images of the people gathered to collect petrol from the overturned oil tanker emerged showing young and old people filling their bikes with the spilled oil and collecting it in bottles and cans. The leaking fuel was even flowing along the highway in the fields. A number of people were seen sitting near the fields collecting fuel in cans and bottles.

Suddenly, the tanker exploded and within seconds the fire erupted giving no chance to the people present there to leave the place.

According to a preliminary report, the tragedy might have been averted had the motorway police reached there on time and
cordoned off the area. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said "illiteracy and poverty" is a reason behind this incident.

More than 40 injured are still battling for their lives in burn centres of Multan and Lahore. The preliminary report also said, "The fire broke out after someone lit a cigarette among the victims and threw its butt."

A video before the incident also emerged on social media showing that a man was smoking a cigarette and he inadvertently threw its butt.

Updated Date: Jun 28, 2017 22:02:14 IST