150 dead after cigarette ignites flipped oil tanker in Pakistan

An overturned oil tanker has burst into flames in Pakistan after a person tried to light a cigarette nearby, killing at least 150 people who had rushed to the scene of the highway accident to gather leaking fuel, officials say.

About 80 people were injured, with many suffering serious burns.

The tanker overturned after trying to make a sharp turn on the national highway on the outskirts of the city of Bahawalpur, 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.

“People of the area and passers by had started gathering fuel when the tanker exploded, burning everybody on and around the spot,” provincial government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan said.

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

Residents were told of the leaking fuel over a loudspeaker atop the local mosque, deputy commissioner of Bahawalpur Rana Mohammad Salim said, adding that the dead included men, women and children

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.

“According to the initial reports, somebody tried to light a cigarette … leading to the tanker’s explosion,” a rescue service spokesman said.

Source: Pakistan oil tanker fire kills at least 150 as onlookers rush to gather leaking fuel – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)