At least 120 people died and 130 were injured when an oil tanker truck exploded in Bahawalpur city in eastern Pakistan, according to officials.
The accident occurred when the truck fell off the road it was traveling on Sunday morning, Mohammad Akhtar a police official with the city of Bahawalpur told CNN.
Villagers had gathered around the vehicle to collect its oil in containers when the vehicle exploded, Akhtar said. Many were covered in oil and burned and an emergency had been declared in the city, he said.
Punjab government spokesman Salman Sufi said that at least 120 people had been killed and 130 others injured in the explosion.
Bahawalpur’s Victoria Hospital said it was treating 40 of the injured, all of whom had suffered 70% burns.
“(An) emergency has been declared in the hospital and we are treating the patients. At least 15 are critical at the moment,” Dr. Faqeer told CNN.
Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif “expressed deep grief over the heavy loss of life,” his office said.
“The Prime Minister has directed provincial government to provide full medical assistance to the injured with burns,” it said. “The Prime Minister has expressed sympathies with the bereaved families and prayed for the departed souls.”
Inquiry to be held
An inquiry would be held into the incident, the Chief Minister of Punjab said in a statement.
“CM Punjab Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has expressed deep sense of sorrow and grief over the loss of precious human lives in the tragic incident of oil tanker near Ahmad Pur Sharqiyya Bahawalpur.
“CM expressed sympathy and condolence with the bereaved families and directed the administration to provide best medical facilities to the injured persons. CM also sought report of the incident and ordered to hold inquiry of the incident,” the statement said.
Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) had directed the provision of full assistance to the civil administration in the relief effort, Armed Forces spokesman Major General Asif Chafoor said on Twitter.
Army aviation helicopters had been sent for the evacuation of casualties to hospitals and burn centers, Ghafoor said. He added that hospitals had been placed on high alert.
Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, tweeted that the blaze was “a national tragedy of epic proportions.”
The politician and former cricketer said he had asked local leadership to assess what assistance could be provided to the injured and victims’ families.
The US Embassy in Islamabad tweeted its condolences. “We are so saddened to hear of the terrible oil tanker accident in #Bahawalpur. Our deep condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims,” it said.