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Death toll rises above 150 in Pakistan oil tanker explosion

The tanker burst into flames after it flipped over on the national highway in Punjab province.

Updated 4.43pm

Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

AN OVERTURNED OIL tanker burst into flames in Pakistan today, killing more than 150 people who had rushed to the scene of the highway accident to gather leaking fuel, an official said.

Officials at the scene have said 153 people were killed and another 50 were critically wounded, with many suffering serious burns.

The tanker flipped over on the national highway about 100 kilometres southwest of Multan. The tanker was driving from the southern port city of Karachi to Lahore, the Punjab provincial capital, when the driver lost control and crashed.

Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Nearby villagers ran toward the overturned tanker with jerry cans to take the leaking fuel, said Naseer. Police tried to cordon off the area, but were overwhelmed by the scores of villagers who pushed through to reach the truck.

Beyond recognition

Eyewitnesses said about 30 motorcycles that had carried villagers to the accident site lay in charred ruins nearby. Eight other vehicles were destroyed, they said.

Many of the bodies were burned beyond recognition, said Naseer.

Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

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 other Muslim countries celebrated the holiday Sunday, Pakistanis will celebrate tomorrow.

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Residents were told of the leaking fuel over a loudspeaker atop the local mosque, said Rana Mohammad Salim, deputy commissioner of Bahawalpur, near where the tanker overturned.

Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Salim said some of the seriously injured have been moved to Multan. The dead included men, women and children, he said.

Imran Shah, a spokesman for the highway police, told a local TV channel that police moved quickly to redirect traffic, but couldn’t stop the scores of villagers who raced to collect the fuel.

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