KARACHI/KHUZDAR: Twenty seven people, including women and children, burned to death when a Panjgur-bound bus collided with a truck near Lasbela Cross and caught fire that destroyed both vehicles within a few seconds and left the bodies charred beyond recognition on Monday, officials said.
Nearly half a dozen people were also injured in the deadly collision, as the condition of one of them was said to be serious.
The officials were not sure what really caused the tragic accident and said the first priority of the administration was to retrieve the bodies, trace their family links and shift the injured to hospital.
The bus belonging to Jehanzeb Coach Service had left Karachi in the evening and met with the accident a few hours later near Lasbela Cross, around three kilometres from Bela City.
“Some 12 people including women and children were killed in the accident,” said Shabbir Mengal, deputy commissioner of Lasbela, shortly after the collision as the rescue operation was under way.
He said: “We have moved some 15 injured as well. One of them appears quite critical. We are moving him to Karachi immediately. After the collision with the truck, the fuel tank of the coach caught fire and within no time, it destroyed the coach leaving only a few seconds for the passengers trapped inside to come out.”
The deputy commission said many of them couldn’t make it. Their bodies along with the injured victims were shifted to hospital, he added.
Official sources quoting the booking clerk of the bus service said that 29 passengers purchased tickets from the booking office for travelling to Panjgur. “In all, 33 passengers were on board along with four members of the bus staff, including the driver,” official sources told Dawn.
Sources said that the truck was carrying Iranian smuggled oil which caused a huge fire after the collision. They said the bus had only one door that made it difficult for the passengers to come out.
Fire tenders were also called from Hub and Uthal as there was only one fire brigade tender available in Bela.
They brought the fire under control after three hours.
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan, who has been elected from Bela to the Balochistan Assembly, has expressed deep grief and sorrow over the tragic incident that claimed two dozen lives.
He directed the district administration that best medical treatment be given to the injured passengers.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2019