Sunday, December 10, 2023

Death toll in Pakistani oil tanker fire rises to 158

Islamabad, June 28 (IANS) The death toll in the oil tanker fire in Pakistan’s Punjab province has risen to 158, officials said on Tuesday.

Aamir Bukhari, Director of Emergency at the Victoria Hospital at Bahawalpur, told Xinhua news agency that the death toll surged after 18 injured succumbed to their injuries at different hospitals during the last 36 hours.

Bukhari said following the incident, 125 unrecognizable bodies and 144 injured were brought to the hospital, out of which 33 had expired since Sunday.

He feared that the death toll might further rise as 22 out of 111 injured and under intensive care had bleak chances of survival because they had suffered over 80 percent burn wounds.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who cut short his Britain tour after the tragedy, visited the injured on Monday and announced to hold an in-depth inquiry into the tragedy, saying “we shall not let this incident go ignored without reaching any conclusion”.

A case has been registered against the driver, the manager and the owner of the tanker.

The incident took place on Sunday when an oil tanker filled with around 50,000 liters of petrol skidded off the road due to careless driving on a highway in Ahmad Pur Sharqia, a small town about 400 km southwest of Lahore.

The fire broke out after many people from nearby villages came on motorbikes to collect the oil spilling from the capsized oil tanker and someone lit a cigarette.

Over four dozen ambulances rushed to the site and shifted the bodies and injured to hospitals.

Four helicopters and a C-130 airplane were used to airlift the critically injured to hospitals in other cities due to lack of doctors and facilities for burn injuries in local hospitals.

All the people who were collecting oil died on the spot while the injured brought to hospital were those who were passers by or were standing at a distance and got affected due to high intensity of the fire explosion, Xinhua quoted Bukhari as saying.

A total of 80 motorbikes and six vehicles were burnt in the fire, including a car carrying seven persons of a family who stopped just to know what people were collecting.

The Punjab government announced a compensation package of 2,000,000 rupees ($19,100) for each family of the deceased and 1,000,000 rupees ($9,550) for each of the injured.

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