25 Jun 2017

Oil tanker blast kills more than 130 in Pakistan

9:05 pm on 25 June 2017

An overturned oil tanker exploded killing at least 132 people in Pakistan, as most of the victims had gathered round when spilt fuel from the stricken vehicle ignited, officials say.

Pakistani rescue workers and paramedics with a burns victim injured after the oil tanker fire.

Pakistani rescue workers and paramedics with a burns victim injured after the oil tanker fire. Photo: AFP

The tanker overturned after trying to make a sharp turn on a highway on the outskirts of the city of Bahawalpur.

A large crowd of people gathered at the scene when it caught fire and exploded, rescue workers said, adding about 80 people had been injured.

"People of the area and passers-by had started gathering fuel when the tanker exploded, burning everybody on and around the spot," provincial government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan told Reuters.

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

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

"According to the initial reports, somebody tried to light a cigarette, and when the spilt fuel caught fire, leading to the tanker's explosion," Jam Sajjad Hussain, spokesman for the rescue workers service said.

Firefighters fought the flames for over two hours before extinguishing the fire.

The driver of the tanker survived the accident and had been taken into police custody, said Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan.

About 40 people with serious burns were airlifted to hospitals in the nearby city of Multan.

Bahawalpur in Pakistan

Bahawalpur in Pakistan Photo: Google Maps

The prime minister's office said the Punjab provincial government had been directed to provide full medical assistance.

"Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz 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.

- Reuters

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