Pakistan raises death toll to 157 from fuel truck fire

Elias Hubbard
June 26, 2017

Pakistan's prime minister cut short a trip overseas to rush to the side of victims of a massive fuel tanker fire as authorities on Monday raised the death toll from the blaze to 157.

Numerous victims will have to be identified through DNA testing as they were burned beyond recognition, said Dr Mohammad Baqar, a senior rescue official in the area.

The tanker was travelling from Karachi to Lahore when its tyre burst and the driver lost control, crashing the truck on the highway.

The explosion came as villagers began to gather around the truck in an attempt to collect fuel which had begun to leak from the vehicle.

Hospitals are also arranging DNA testing to identify the many bodies that were charred beyond recognition.

A general view of the scene of an oil tanker explosion in Bahawalpur, Pakistan June 25, 2017. The wreck then exploded, engulfing people in flames as they screamed in terror.

A doctor at Bahawalpur's Victoria Hospital said the new deaths occurred at a hospital in Multan where some of the critically injured were taken.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was in London to celebrate Eid along with his family members, cut short his visit and arrived this morning to visit the victims.

Sharif also announced two million rupees (nearly $40,000 Cdn) as financial assistance for each family who had lost a relative in the highway inferno, and handed over cheques of one million rupees ($20,000 Cdn) for each burn victim being treated.

Serious burn victims, several in critical condition, were airlifted by helicopter to hospitals in Bahawalpur and nearby cities for treatment.

"Prime Minister Sharif has expressed deep grief over the heavy loss of life in the unfortunate accident of oil tanker fire at Ahmad Pur Sharqia, Bahawalpur, the statement said".

Similarly another injured youth said he desired to meet him (Nawaz Sharif), the Prime Minister said and added, "This really touched my heart and I prayed for their health and life".

Numerous bodies were burned beyond recognition and will have to be identified through DNA testing, said Baqar. "It is inappropriate. There should be no politics on such tragic occasions when we should console the injured and affected", he said. So many were just skeletons.

The PM said all of the injured as well as heirs of the deceased persons of oil tanker incident will be provided with jobs. In recent years, similar incidents have been reported in Nigeria and Sudan.

The disaster struck on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr which follows the holy month of Ramadan.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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