A devastating accident involving an oil tanker truck explosion has left at least 135 people dead in Bahawalpur, eastern Pakistan, the country’s Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority said.
Smoke rippled from the truck that fell off the road Sunday when the driver lost control in the city of Bahawalpur, police official Mohammad Akhtar told CNN.The explosion came as villagers began to gather around the truck in an attempt to collect oil in containers, Akhtar said.
A loudspeaker atop a local mosque alerted villagers to the leaking fuel, and scores raced to the site with jerry cans, said Rana Mohammad Salim, deputy commissioner of Bahawalpur.
The blast has left at least 130 people injured. A state of emergency has been declared in the city, Punjab provincial government spokesman Salman Sufi said. Bahawalpur’s Victoria Hospital said it was treating 40 of the injured, all of whom have suffered 70% burns.
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of Pakistan’s military, said a total of 51 people with serious burns and in critical condition have been transported by army helicopters to the city of Multan.
It added that the road had been reopened and that traffic had started to flow again.
The dead included men, women and children. Many were burned beyond recognition, Baqar said, and will have to be identified using DNA testing.
Provincial government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan told the Reuters news agency that 20 children were estimated to be among the dead.
The oil tanker truck explosion came on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. While most other Muslim countries celebrated the holiday Sunday, Pakistanis will celebrate on Monday.
The tanker was driving from the southern port city of Karachi to Lahore, the Punjab provincial capital, when the driver lost control and crashed on the national highway outside Bahawalpur.