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Local rescue officials say that at least 150 people have died on a Pakistan highway after an oil tanker turned over and caught fire. The oil spill engulfed scores of people who had rushed to collect leaking fuel.
At least 150 people were killed and more than 75 severely injured when an oil tanker caught fire after it overturned on a highway in the eastern city of Bahawalpur, local media reported Sunday morning.
DW’s correspondent in Lahore, Tanvir Shahzad, said the death toll was expected to rise.
Radio Pakistan reported that after the tanker flipped on the highway, residents gathered around it to collect leaking oil. That is when the tanker caught fire and burnt people alive.
Pakistan's Geo TV quotes eyewitnesses as claiming that people smoking at the scene may have sparked the fire.
According to police sources, the tanker had been carrying 25,000 liters of oil from Karachi to Lahore.
Rizwan Naseer, a provincial rescue official, said some of the dead bodies had been charred beyond recognition.
Rescue operations were underway as fire brigade personnel managed to control the blaze.
The injured were taken to a nearby hospital, according to rescue officials.
Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of the Punjab province, has ordered a government inquiry into the accident.
Pakistan’s military chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, ordered the army to assist the civil administration in the rescue effort.
"COAS [Chief of Army Staff] expresses grief on losses in oil tanker incident," Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in a tweet.
Fatal traffic accidents due to poor roads and reckless driving are quite frequent in Pakistan. In 2015, at least 62 people were killed in the south of the country when a bus collided with an oil tanker.
shs/jlw (dpa, AP)