Funerals Begin for Pakistan Tanker Fire Victims

Families in Pakistan began holding funerals Monday for the victims of the overturned oil tanker fire.

Officials say more than 150 men, women and children were killed Sunday when they rushed to the scene to gather leaking fuel. Authorities say more than 100 people were injured in the explosion outside the town of Bahawalpur and many of them are in critical condition. Some of the critically injured have been airlifted to the Punjab provincial capital of Lahore for treatment.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif cut short a trip aboard and was in Bahawalpur Monday where he consoled the families of the victims.

The tanker was traveling on the main highway from the southern port city of Karachi to Lahore when the driver lost control of the vehicle.

An announcement over a mosque’s loudspeaker that an overturned tanker truck had sprung a leak sent scores of villagers racing to the scene to gather spilled fuel. Then the wreck exploded, engulfing people and nearby vehicles.

Fuel is a high value commodity in Pakistan, and despite the risks, the possibility of obtaining it for free draws many to accident scenes.

Local police said the driver of the tanker survived and was taken into custody.

The disaster happened on the eve of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. Roads are usually crowded at that time with people traveling to be with their families for the Eid celebrations.

Source: Voice of America