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Oil Tanker Bursts Into Flames in Pakistan

Oil Tanker Bursts Into Flames in Pakistan”

About 151 people were charred to death and 117 others injured on Sunday in a massive blaze that erupted after an oil tanker overturned and crowds rushed to collect the fuel that spilled over on a highway in Pakistan's Punjab province.

A fuel tanker wrecked in eastern Pakistan on Sunday, and as villagers converged to collect fuel leaking from the truck, it exploded, killing at least 140 people, according to police and hospital officials.

The death toll may rise further since numerous injured continue to be in critical conditions, he added. The dead included men, women and children, he said.

About 30 motorcycles that villagers had used to rush to the site of the highway accident lay charred nearby along with cars, witnesses said.

Authorities fear that the death toll is likely to rise.

TV pictures showed piles of burntout motorbikes, apparently those of people who arrived to collect fuel.

The fire was sparked after an oil tanker overturned in Punjab's Bahawalpur city. Eyewitnesses said some people in the vicinity were smoking cigarettes, which could have ignited the the fire.

Dr. Rizwan Naseer, director of Punjab provincial rescue services, said rescuers were collecting the badly burned bodies, many beyond recognition.

Pakistan Motorway Police spokesman Imran Shah told AFP residents also ignored police warnings to stay away.

"I saw the fire and shouted at people to run away but nobody listened to me". Bahawalpur's Victoria Hospital said it was treating 40 victims, all of whom had suffered burns on at least 70% of their bodies.

"Someone should tell me about my beloved sons".

The tanker overturned on a sharp bend on a highway on the outskirts of the city of Bahawalpur.

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 nearest such facility is almost 100 miles away in the city of Multan, in southern Punjab.

The horrific early morning tragedy came hours before Pakistan was due to begin Eid al-Fitr celebrations marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Dozens of people are being treated in hospitals; several people were airlifted by helicopter.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is now on a private trip overseas, expressed shock and deep sorrows over the tragedy and instructed relevant departments to give the best possible medical treatment to the injured people.



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