NAROWAL: Five passengers of a van were burnt alive after it caught fire as a result of its collision with a mini-bus while 18 passengers were seriously injured in the accident that occurred at Dhabliwala bus stop on the Zafarwal-Narowal road.

The van was coming to Narowal from Zafarwal when it collided with the mini-bus going in the opposite direction. After the accident, the van had an explosion and it caught fire which engulfed the whole vehicle in no time.

The locals immediately started the relief operation and brought the passengers out of the van but they could not rescue all the passengers. Five of them, namely Maqsood Ahmad, Mushtaq Ahmad, Sagheer Ahmad, Rehana Kausar and Maqsood Begum, were burnt alive in the van; however, it was impossible to identify them individually. Eighteen people were also injured in the same accident and they included Muhammad Bilal, Kulsoom Bibi, Amanat Ali, Rehana Kausar, Shafaqat Ali, Nazli Bibi, Sofia Bibi, Maqbool Bibi, Zubeda, Asia, Shamim, Junaid Ali, Hamayoon and Saeed.

After receiving the information, Rescue 1122 reached the spot and controlled the fire. The injured and the dead bodies were shifted to the Narowal District Headquarters Hospital. The rescuers cut the van and took out the burnt bodies of the deceased out of it. The bodies of those burnt were unidentifiable.

The eye-witnesses said the van had liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder in it and the explosion occurred due to the cylinder.

There were reports that the DHQ hospital did not have enough staff and facilities to deal with the number of patients in the accident.

Narowal DHQ Hospital Deputy Medical Superintendent Dr Asim Islam said the critical patients would be referred to Lahore as they needed a burn unit while the rest of the patients would be treated at the hospital.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2019