SUKKUR: At least 58 people, including women and children, were killed and several others injured on Tuesday morning following a collision between a passenger coach and a truck near Theri Bypass in Sindh's Khairpur area, police said.
Police official Ghulam Jhokhio told AP that after the accident the bus quickly caught fire as its fuel tank exploded.
However provincial health minister, Jam Mehtab, earlier told Dawn that no one had suffered burn-related injuries during the mishap.
"The fatalities included 21 women and 19 children, all below the age of 14," Medical Superintendent of Khairpur Civil Hospital M Jaffar Soomro said, warning that the death toll was likely to rise.
Soomro told Dawn that the condition of three wounded was critical and they had been shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward.
The fatal accident occurred when the driver of the over-speeding coach, which was travelling from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Swat district to Karachi, tried to overtake a vehicle resulting in a head-on collision with a truck coming from the opposite direction, according to motorway police sources.
However police official Ghulam Jhokhio said that the accident could have been caused due to fog.
The coach, which was carrying around 70 passengers at the time of accident, overturned after hitting the truck.
Emergency and rescue teams reached the accident site and began shifting the victims to hospitals in Sukkur and Khairpur district.
An emergency was imposed at the Civil Hospital Sukkur and other nearby hospitals whereas the condition of several wounded was reported as critical.
Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan expressed condolences over the fatal mishap and ordered for the provision of treatment to the victims.
Road accidents are frequent in Pakistan and claim several lives annually due to poor roads, badly-maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
Nawaz expresses grief over Khairpur road tragedy
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday expressed grief over Khairpur road tragedy and ordered the Sindh provincial government to provide best medical facilities to the injured.
A.D. Khawaja, district inspector general of Motorway police, said the driver was issued a challan at Ghotki for overcrowding the bus, adding that it travelled a distance of 100 kilometres when the accident took place.
Khawaja was talking to DawnNews and said that such incidents could be prevented if highways were constructed at par with international standards.
Bodies of 46 victims shifted to Risalpur
Dead bodies of 46 unfortunate victims of the road accident near Khairpur are being flown by a C-130 aircraft from Sukkur to Risalpur, said a statement issued by the ISPR.
These victims belong to Swat, Bajaur, Peshawar and surrounding areas.
“Army troops of Peshawar Corps are coordinating dispatch of bodies through ambulances till native places of the victims at Risalpur Base with the help of civil administration,” said the statement.