Officials in Pakistan say an overturned oil tanker burst into flames Sunday, killing at least 150 men, women and children who had rushed to the scene to gather leaking fuel. Authorities say more than 100 people were injured in the explosion and many of them are in critical condition.
The tanker was traveling on the main highway from the southern port city of Karachi to the Punjab provincial capital of 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 several 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.
It is not clear what caused the tanker to explode.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.