HUB/BALOCHISTAN: A collision between two passenger buses and a petrol tanker killed 35 people in southwest Pakistan on Saturday, officials said, with many of the victims being burned to death.
The accident took place as a bus travelling to Karachi collided with the tanker in the early hours of this morning in Gadani in Hub district on the coast of Balochistan province, senior administration official Akbar Haripal told AFP.
“The bus and the tanker had a head-on collision and the oil tanker turned over, but the situation got worse when a second passenger bus coming from behind rammed into the first bus as it skidded on the oil spilled on the road,” Haripal said.
The first bus then caught fire, he said, adding that 35 people were killed, most of them burning to death while trapped inside the bus, and 30 were injured.
Local police chief Ahmed Nawaz added to Haripal’s comments, saying the second bus and truck piled up onto the two vehicles and all four vehicles caught fire.
Nawaz said 25 people were reported to have died at the scene while 30 injured victims were taken out of the destroyed and burned buses.
Most of the victims, including women and children, were severely burned and were transported to Karachi. Ten of the injured died on the way, raising the death toll to 35, he said.
Amir Sultan, another senior administration official, confirmed the incident and the toll, saying that the bodies were burned “beyond recognition”.
“These passenger buses travelling between Balochistan and Karachi have automatic hydraulic doors and their windows are sealed because the buses are air conditioned, so most of the passengers were trapped inside,” he said.
Sultan said the injured were being taken to Karachi after receiving first aid at a government-run medical dispensary because there was no hospital in the area.
Meanwhile, officials of the Pakistan Navy said that contact had been established with six personnel who had been travelling in the area and were also reported missing since the time of the traffic accident.
The personnel were travelling from Ormara towards Karachi when contact with them was lost.
The officials confirmed that all personnel were safe.
Pakistan has one of the world’s worst records for fatal traffic accidents, blamed on poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
'An accident not an act of sabotage'
Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Malik Baloch has said that the Hub tragedy was an accident rather than an act of sabotage.
Speaking in Balochistan Assembly on Saturday evening, the chief minister however stated that an inquiry committee headed by a senior police officer was formed to probe into the incident.
He dispelled the impression regarding delayed response of the government and asserted that the authorities were quick at the scene to shift the injured to hospital and to put out the flames.
"We are really shocked and saddened by the incident," the chief minister said.
He assured that as per policy of the government, compensation would be paid to the relatives of the victims.
Dr Baloch stated that a strategy would be evolved along with the federal government to stop oil and diesel smuggling from neighboring Iran.
"Iranian diesel and oil loaded in buses caused the incident," the chief minister said, adding that the incident would be taken up with security agencies.
Additional reporting by Syed Ali Shah