MULTAN/MUZAFFARGARH: At least six girls were killed and 24 others, including women and children, were injured when a passenger van caught fire near Muhammadwala bridge on river Chenab on Sunday.
According to Rescue 1122, the van was carrying 30 people belonging to the same family who were coming to Multan from Chowk Munda, Layyah district, to pay visit to some shrines in Multan. It caught fire after hitting a floodlight pole.
Police and rescue teams from Multan and Muzaffargarh reached the site and removed the dead to mortuary and the injured to the burns unit of the Nishtar Hospital.
The hospital record identified the dead as Tania, 14; Farah, 14; Shamshad; Saima, 14; Sonia, 15; and Shaheena, 14. The injured people included 10 children.
Three of the injured were discharged from the hospital while 21 were under treatment.
According to hospital sources, two patients had serious burns.
One of the victims told reporters that the van was carrying members of the same family. “We do not know how the van caught fire as all happened so suddenly and we started leaving the van,” she said.
She said passengers sitting on rear seats of the van lost their lives as they could not exit quickly.
Another victim said the van caught fire after a tyre burst. An official on the site said that apparently the van caught fire due to short circuit. A civil defence official ruled out CNG/LPG leak as the possible cause of fire as the cylinder was intact and contained gas even after the fire.
Muzaffargarh DPO Awais Ahmad said a case had been registered against van driver who fled the scene.
Following the van fire, Dera Ghazi Khan Commissioner Ahmed Ali Kamboh constituted a four-member inquiry committee led by the deputy commissioner of Layyah to hold a probe into the accident and cause of the fire and report within three days.
Mr Kamboh told reporters that the people responsible for the fatal accident would be penalised in the light of inquiry findings.
Multan Commissioner Bilal Butt and Deputy Commissioner Nadir Chatha visited the Nishtar Hospital and inquired after the health of the injured.
DC Chatha said that although the incident took place in the limits of Muzaffargarh district, rescue teams from Multan gave immediate response and reached the site.
The Multan commissioner directed crackdown against vehicles having CNG and LPG cylinders.
Tariq Birmani from Dera Ghazi Khan contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2017