- The death toll is rising after a truck carrying fuel overturned near the Pakistani city of Ahmedpur East and exploded while hundreds of villagers tried to collect free fuel from the leaking wreck.
News outlets are reporting that nearly 150 people have been killed and dozens more injured at the scene of the crash, which authorities are blaming on a tire blow-out that happened when the truck went round a sharp bend. The explosion is said to have been caused by a passerby lighting a cigarette, according to a report from the BBC.
Some of the bodies were so badly burned that only DNA sampling will identify them.
“The incident, which was a minor [one], turned into a major blast,” said rescue services spokesman Jam Sajjad.
In the wake of the tragedy, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is reportedly cutting a visit to London short to come back home, said the Pakistani government news agency, APP.
Army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted out that “Army Aviation helicopters sent for evacuation of casualties to hospitals / burn centres. Hospitals placed on high alert.”
Army Aviation helicopters sent for evacuation of casualties to hospitals / burn centres. Hospitals placed on high alert. (2 of 2).
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) June 25, 2017
APP reported that the tanker had been transporting 25,000 litres (5,500 gallons) of fuel from Karachi to Lahore when it crashed in the Kachi Pul area, which is located in Punjab’s Bahawalpur district. Villagers ran to the scene with pots, which they attempted to fill with the leaking fuel. Word that there was free fuel to be had got out quickly, and hundreds of people were amassed at the site when the tanker caught fire and tragically blew up on Sunday.
Monday marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which consists of a celebration called Eid ul-Fitr, so the streets in Pakistan were crowded with people traveling home for the holidays. Photos of the accident show burned-out vehicles and plumes of thick black smoke rising from the middle of the disaster zone. The throngs of people on the street look absolutely panic-stricken.
— Youssef Amerniss (@youssefamerniss) June 25, 2017
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