Death toll in Pakistan oil tanker fire climbs to 188
The death toll in Sunday's fuel tanker blast in Pakistan's northeastern Punjab province has risen to 188 as 14 more victims succumbed to their injuries at hospitals in the last 24 hours, a government official told Anadolu Agency on Friday.
Dr. Amir Bukhari, a senior health official at Punjab's provincial government said that the death toll shot up after more burn victims lost their lives at different hospitals. "Now the latest death toll is 188," he added.
Health officials fear a further rise in death toll as over a dozen people with 60 to 80 percent burn injuries are still stated to be in critical condition.
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 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.