At least 100 dead after oil tanker overturns on Pakistan highway

At least 100 dead after oil tanker overturns on Pakistan highway”

Residents of a nearby village had been told about the leaking fuel over a loudspeaker at a local mosque, senior local government official Rana Mohammad Saleem Afzal told state television.

"This is a tragedy of its kind in the country's history that left everyone in grief in Pakistan".

"At least 123 people were killed before getting any medical help while the rescue officials shifted more than 100 injured to the district headquarters hospital and Victoria Hospital in Bahawalpur where the condition of a lot of them is critical", Afzal said, adding some 50,000 litres of petrol spilled from the oil tanker.

In addition, an estimated 20 children were among the dead.

DW's correspondent in Lahore, Tanvir Shahzad, said the death toll was expected to rise.

Most of the affected people were residents of the locality near by.

After the tanker overturned in the Pul Paka area near the National Highway, people in the vicinity rushed to the vehicle to collect fuel. Then the wreck exploded, engulfing people in flames as they screamed in terror. "We convey our condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives, to the friendly and brotherly people and Government of Pakistan".

"I could hear people screaming but I couldn't get to them", he said.

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Around 140 others were injured in the explosion and were airlifted to nearby hospitals by army helicopters, 50 in a critical condition having suffered more than 80% burns to their bodies.

The villagers rushed to the scene with containers to collect oil, according to Mohammad Akhtar, a police official with the city of Bahawalpur, who told CNN.

Villagers had gathered, reportedly to collect fuel leaking from the crashed tanker, when it caught fire.

"At least three cars and more than 70 motorcycles were also destroyed in the flames", Sattar reports.

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif reached at Nishtar Hospital and inquired after the injured.

Salim said some of the seriously injured have been moved to Multan.

Former captain of the Pakistani cricket team, Imran Khan, now the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, tweeted, saying he had asked local leadership to assess what assistance could be provided to the injured and victims' families. "Directed provision of full assistance to civil admn in rescue/relief effort".

The injured were transferred to District Headquarters Hospital and Bahawal Victoria Hospital, rescue officials said.

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