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At least 140 killed in tanker fire near Bahawalpur

Local residents collecting fuel from overturned vehicle on national highway in Ahmed Pur Sharqia burnt alive.

At least 140 people have been burnt alive and dozens of others injured after an oil tanker caught fire and exploded near Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

The incident occurred on Sunday morning as a large number of people gathered to collect petrol from the vehicle, according to rescue services.

Local sources told Al Jazeera that most of the victims were residents of nearby areas who were collecting fuel from the oil tanker, which had overturned after skidding off a national highway in Ahmed Pur Sharqia.

Fire brigade vehicles arrived at the site soon after the of the explosion and rescue operations were under way, the sources told Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Pakistan’s Islamabad, said the tanker turned over on a “main logistical supply” route and “a large number of people rushed to the scene and started to collect fuel” that was spilling from the truck.

“Suddenly the area was engulfed in flames, and most of the people were caught in those flames. Apparently most of them were already carrying fuel, so they had no chance.

He added: “We are told most of the bodies are burnt beyond recognition.”

At least 90 people who were injured were moved to Bahawalpur Victoria Hospital and other health facilities. Explaining that the nearest hospital does not have a burn unit, Hyder said the death toll is expected to rise.

Children were among the dead and injured, said hospital doctor Mohamed Ahmed.

People with severe burns were being sent to other cities because the hospital lacked facilities to treat so many patients at the same time, he added.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his grief at the accident and ordered authorities to make sure the victims were treated at the best medical facilities, his office said in a statement.

A large number of motorcycles and vehicles were destroyed by the fire.

SRC: Aljazeera

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