Death toll from Pakistan oil tanker fire rises to 174


The death toll in Sunday's fuel tanker blast in northeastern Pakistan has risen to 174 as 17 more people succumbed to their injuries at hospitals in the last two days, officials and local media reported on Thursday.

The dead included the driver of the ill-fated tanker who had been booked by the local police for negligence, local broadcaster Express News reported quoting health officials.

Over a dozen people with 60 to 80 percent burn injuries are still stated to be in critical condition by the doctors, Express News said.

According to the latest figures, over 150 were injured when an overturned oil tanker caught fire in Bahawalpur district of northeastern Punjab province on Sunday, a day before Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of Ramadan.

Some 125 unidentified victims have already been buried following a mass funeral at the site of the fire as their bodies were so badly charred and were beyond recognition.

Several injured, according to area people, lost their lives due to unavailability of burns units at the local hospitals as dozens were transported to Multan and state capital Lahore hospitals for better treatment.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is serving his third term as premier, is credited for development of communication networks in the country, but is often criticized for not paying as much attention towards the development of health and education sectors.

The fire tragedy took place when a big crowd of villagers had gathered to collect fuel from an overturned tanker on the national highway near Ahmedpur East area in Bahawalpur.

According to initial investigations, a cigarette is suspected to have caused the massive blaze that engulfed the people collecting the spilled fuel, a high-value commodity in Pakistan, especially in areas like Ahmedpur East which has long suffered from poverty and illiteracy.

Pakistan has a long history of road and rail disasters, mainly because of poor infrastructure and lack of safety standards.

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