An oil tanker flipped on it’s side and local residents scurried to the area to try to gather as much as of the precious liquid as they could, when the oil caught fire and basically incinerated 148 people. It happened suddenly and began with an explosion. The AP (Associated Press) is reporting that many of the people are burned way past identification and will require DNA testing.
The BBC is reporting that the truck going from Karachi to Lahore and wrecked near Bahawalpur, about 100 kilometers southwest of Multan. At the time of the accident, the truck was hauling 5,500 gallons of oil.
Major General Asif Chafoor said it ‘appeared that the tanker blew a tyre while rounding a sharp bend in the road.’
Nearby villagers ran toward the overturned tanker with jerry cans to take the leaking fuel.
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.
Police tried to cordon off the area but were overwhelmed by the scores of villagers who pushed through to reach the truck.
Rescue services believe a subsequent fire may have been sparked by a cigarette.
‘One of the passers-by lit the lighter to start a cigarette and the untoward incident which was a minor [one]… turned into a major blast,’ Jam Sajjad said via bbc.
Eyewitnesses said about 30 motorcycles that had carried villagers to the accident site lay in charred ruins nearby. Eight other vehicles were destroyed, they said.
The disaster came on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
The tragedy comes amidst Pakistan roads being notoriously dangerous, with poor vehicle maintenance and reckless driving compounded by the plight of besieged locals willing to put their lives at risk for the hope of gathering leaked fuel ….
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