Almost 150 killed as oil tanker blows up in Pakistan

In a statement posted on its official website, Turkish Foreign Ministry said: “We learned with deep sorrow that more than a hundred people were killed and many were injured as a result of a tanker accident in Bahawalpur city in Punjab province of Pakistan”.Many bodies were burned beyond recognition and television pictures showed piles of burnt out motorbikes, apparently those of people who arrived to collect fuel or just to have a look.The death toll from an oil tanker fire in Pakistan has risen to 153, with dozens more in a critical condition, and the fatalities are expected to increase. “Many bodies are beyond identification”, he added.”COAS expresses grief on losses in oil tanker incident”, Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major Gen Asif Ghafoor said in a tweet. Large numbers of people gathered to collect leaked oil from the containers when the tanker exploded into a huge fireball.Police had tried to seal off the area but became overwhelmed by the scores of people trying to reach the vehicle.Police had tried to clear the area before the explosion but people ignored them, Khan said, adding that the initial crash had blocked the road causing a back-up of traffic.Details were sketchy but some witnesses suggested the tanker had suffered a burst tyre, said regional police chief Raja Riffat.Four helicopters were used to airlift the critically injured people to the hospitals in other cities due to the lack of doctors and facilities for burn injuries in the local hospitals.”One body has been recovered and 11 others are still missing”, Ahmed said. The dead included men, women and children, he said. He said many people were covered in oil and burned and that an emergency had been declared in the city.He said that holidays of all the staff at the hospital had been cancelled and they will remain on duty during Eid. “There must have been 500 people gathered when the fire began”.Officials of the Pakistan Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority said the tanker was traveling from Karachi to the Punjabi capital, Lahore, carrying more than 10,500 gallons of fuel.The mishap could have been averted, according to the police, if the crowd had stayed away from the tanker instead of collecting spilled oil in pots.Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab Province, has announced a compensation package of 2,000,000 rupees (19,100 US dollars) for each of the killed and 1,000,000 rupees (9,550 USA dollars) for the injured.”The Prime Minister has directed provincial government to provide full medical assistance to the injured with burns.The Prime Minister has expressed sympathies with the bereaved families and prayed for the departed souls”.