At least 20 people were killed and six injured when a passenger bus collided with an oil tanker on the Multan-Sukkur Motorway (M-5) in the early hours of Tuesday, officials said.
Multan Deputy Commissioner Tahir Wattoo confirmed the incident in a statement, saying that the passenger bus, which was travelling from Lahore to Karachi, hit the oil tanker from the rear side at Jalalpur Peerwala interchange on the motorway.
A fire erupted after the collision and 20 people died on the spot, the statement added.
Later, Multan Commissioner Amir Khattak also confirmed the development in a tweet. He said the accident had taken place around 4am.
However, a statement issued by Rescue 1122’s provincial monitoring centre in Lahore said the accident took place at 2:20am.
Photographs of the accident’s site shared by the commissioner showed the charred wreckage of the bus and the oil tanker.
Meanwhile, DawnNewsTV quoted a motorway police spokesperson as saying the tanker was carrying thousands of litres of petrol. He added that the apparent cause of the accident was the bus driver falling asleep.
Medical superintendent at Nishtar Hospital, Multan Dr Amjad Chandio told Dawn.com that four of the injured were initially shifted to the facility’s burns unit while arrangements for the 20 dead bodies were also under way at the hospital’s mortuary.
Later, DC Wattoo issued another statement, saying that the process of DNA testing was being initiated for the identification of the deceased.
Punjab CM takes notice
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi sought a report on the incident from the Multan commissioner.
A statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office quoted him as saying that all aspects of the incident should be investigated and those responsible be identified.
The CM expressed grief over the lives lost in the accident and extended his condolences to the bereaved families.
He also directed the relevant authorities to provide the best possible medical treatment to the injured, the statement said.
Further, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also expressed grief over the incident and prayed for the deceased and their families.
“I am saddened by the loss of 20 precious lives in the accident. My prayers are with the bereaved families,” he tweeted.
8 killed, 20 injured as coach overturns near Rohri
Separately, eight people were killed while more than 20 were injured after a passenger coach overturned on the motorway and plunged into a ditch near Rohri.
According to rescue officials, the coach was headed from Swat to Karachi and overturned when the driver made a sharp turn, falling into a ditch.
Persons in-charge of the Edhi Centre in Sukkur, Mohammad Urs Magsi and Gul Mahar, said that four women and two children were among the deceased.
They said that rescue officials rushed to the scene soon after receiving information of the accident and shifted the bodies and the injured to Rohri Taluka Hospital where an emergency had been declared.
The official said the injured were in critical condition, expressing the fear that the number of casualties could increase.
Additional input by Ubaidullah Sheikh