An overturned oil tanker exploded killing at least 123 people in Pakistan on Sunday. Most of the victims had gathered around when spilt fuel from the stricken vehicle ignited, officials said.
The tanker overturned after trying to make a sharp turn on a highway on the outskirts of the city of Bahawalpur. A large crowd of people had gathered at the scene when it caught fire and exploded, rescue workers said, adding that about 80 people had been injured.
“Locals and passersby had started gathering fuel when the tanker exploded, burning everybody,” said provincial government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan.
Serious burn victims, several in critical condition, were airlifted by helicopter to hospitals in Bahawalpur and nearby cities for treatment.
“According to initial reports, somebody tried to light a cigarette,” Jam Sajjad Hussain, spokesman for the rescue workers service said.
Firefighters fought the flames for over two hours before extinguishing the fire.
The prime minister’s office said the Punjab provincial government had been directed to provide full medical assistance.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif expressed “deep grief” over the heavy loss of life.