Oil tanker tragedy: death toll reached 207


Bahawalpur, July 4 (TNS): The death toll from a lorry fire in Pakistan last week has risen sharply, with more than 200 people killed, officials say on Tuesday.

The tanker carrying fuel burst into flames near Ahmedpur East on 25 June.

Villagers had gathered, reportedly to collect fuel leaking from the crashed tanker, when it caught fire. Dozens are being treated in hospital.

The death toll in the hours after the fire hit 150, but local officials now say it is at least 207, after more victims died in hospitals.

The fire was sparked by a passer-by lighting a cigarette, a rescue services spokesman said.

Some of the victims may only be identified by DNA sampling, as the bodies were so badly burned in the incident, reports said.

A mass funeral for 125 of the victims was held last week.

Police sources told Pakistani news agency APP that the tanker had been transporting 25,000 litres (5,500 gallons) of fuel from Karachi to Lahore. It appears the tanker blew a tyre while rounding a sharp bend in the road.

People in nearby villages had rushed to the scene to collect fuel in pots, and also made phone calls to their relatives in other villages to come to collect fuel.

Traffic police had tried in vain to keep the crowds away from the tanker as local people, including women and children, continued collecting fuel.

A huge fire then erupted, engulfing all the people standing around the vehicle, they said.

Emergency services struggled to find burns units to treat the injured, APP reported.

Motorway police spokesman Imran Shah told the AFP news agency that a government inquiry had concluded five police officials were guilty of concealing information after the fire.