Oil truck fireball kills 153 in Pakistan as crowd races to get free fuel – New York Daily News

Tom MarkLast Update : Monday 26 June 2017 - 4:28 AM
Oil truck fireball kills 153 in Pakistan as crowd races to get free fuel – New York Daily News

More than 150 people, many of them collecting fuel leaking from an oil tanker that crashed in eastern Pakistan on Sunday, were killed when the truck exploded and spread a wall of fire across the road, officials said.

Another 100 people were injured in the blast near Bahawalpur, and at least 40 of the villagers treated at a nearby hospital suffered burns on at least 70% of their bodies, according to medical workers.

The death toll of 153 was expected to rise, officials said.

The government declared a state of emergency and placed hospitals on high alert.

The Latest: 153 killed in Pakistan tanker fire

The catastrophe began when the truck’s driver lost control and veered off the road, and the vehicle overturned.

What was at first seen as a godsend by many — free oil in pools on the side of a road — quickly became a calamity, when the truck and everything around it exploded into flames.

Local news channels showed thick black smoke billowing into the air, and charred bodies and cars in the area surrounding the truck.

More than 150 people, many of them collecting fuel leaking from an oil tanker that crashed in eastern Pakistan on Sunday, were killed when the truck exploded and spread a wall of fire across the road.

More than 150 people, many of them collecting fuel leaking from an oil tanker that crashed in eastern Pakistan on Sunday, were killed when the truck exploded and spread a wall of fire across the road.

(SS MIRZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Saznoor Ahmad, 30, whose two cousins were killed in the fire, said the crowd of people screamed as the flames engulfed them.

“The fire moved so fast,” Ahmad said.

When the flames subsided, the field was strewn with bodies, and nearby were the charred shells of motorcycles and cars that the villagers had used to race to the scene.

Mohammed Salim said he ran toward the smoke with buckets of water and sand, but the heat was too intense for him to reach the victims.

“I could hear people screaming, but I couldn’t get to them,” he said.

The tanker was traveling from the port city of Karachi to Lahore when it crashed on a national highway outside Bahawalpur.

Local news channels showed thick black smoke billowing into the air, and charred bodies and cars in the area surrounding the truck.

Local news channels showed thick black smoke billowing into the air, and charred bodies and cars in the area surrounding the truck.

(Iram Asim/AP)

A loudspeaker atop a local mosque alerted villagers of the spilled fuels, and scores of people raced to the scene with pots to collect the oil.

Highway police tried to redirect traffic, but could not stop the onslaught of people.

A short while later, the same loudspeaker called on the remaining villagers to help put the fire out.

The disaster came on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

While Saudi Arabia and most Muslim countries celebrated the holiday Sunday, Pakistanis will mark it on Monday.

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