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    Sunday, June 25, 2017

    Five out of 59 succumbed to burns in Hospital at Multan -Toll rose to 153

    MULTAN: 59 burn victims of Bahwalpur oil tanker explosion have been shifted to different health facilities in Multan District including Pak-Italian Modern Burn Center, officials said on Sunday.Now death toll rose to 153
    Due to high number of injured, Multan Commissioner declared emergency in the hospitals to accommodate the maximum number of victims. The injured were admitted to newly established burn unit, Nishtar Hospital, Combined Military Hospital and other health facilities.At least 153 people were killed and around 140 injured in a fire that broke out after an oil tanker overturned in central Pakistan and crowds rushed to collect the fuel.
    The tragedy came one day before Pakistan was due to begin Eid ul-Fitr celebrations marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, with many roads crowded as people travel home for the holidays.
    Images of the crash showed rising flames and a thick plume of smoke, along with charred vehicles. 
    The tanker crashed near the town of Ahmedpur East, 416 miles south of the capital Islamabad.
    Some 140 people were wounded, including 40 in critical condition, said Mohammad Baqar, an official with local rescue services, adding that the toll was expected to rise.  
    The military said it was sending army helicopters to evacuate the wounded and hospitals were put on high alert. 
    The nearest burn centre is believed to be more than 93 miles away.
    Mohammed Salim ran toward the smoke carrying buckets of water and sand but said the heat was too intense to reach those in need.
    'I could hear people screaming but I couldn't get to them,' he said.
    Abdul Malik, a local police officer also among the first to arrive, described a 'horrible scene,' adding: 'I have never seen anything like it in my life. Victims trapped in the fireball. They were screaming for help.'
    He said that when the fire subsided, 'we saw bodies everywhere, so many were just skeletons. The people who were alive were in really bad shape.'  
    Many of the victims, who were taken to Bahawalpur's Victoria Hospital in south Punjab, suffered up to 80 per cent burns.
    The hospital declared a state of emergency, called in extra doctors and nurses, and formed a team to handle the emergency within 15 minutes of the fire.
    Men, women and children were among the dead, many of whom will have to be identified through DNA testing as they were burned beyond recognition, said Dr Mohammad Baqar, a senior rescue official in the area.
    'The fire moved so fast,' said Mr Ahmad. 
    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his grief and directed the government of Punjab province, run by his brother Shabhaz Sharif, to provide 'full medical assistance'.
    The tanker flipped over on the national highway about 60 miles southwest of Multan. It was driving from the southern port city of Karachi to Lahore, the Punjab provincial capital, when the driver lost control and crashed.
    Nearby villagers ran toward the overturned tanker with jerrycans and utensils to take the leaking fuel, Rizwan Naseer, the head of the Punjab province's rescue services, said. It is thought some of them were smoking cigarettes, which caused the blaze.
    A loudspeaker atop a local mosque alerted villagers to the leaking fuel, and scores raced to the site with jerrycans, said Rana Mohammad Salim, deputy commissioner of Bahawalpur.
    Senior local official Rana Mohammad Saleem Afzal said at least 153 people were killed and at least 100 injured. Pictured: The flames burning during the tragedy
    Senior local official Rana Mohammad Saleem Afzal said at least 153 people were killed and at least 100 injured. Pictured: The flames burning during the tragedy
    Highway police moved quickly to redirect traffic but could not stop those who raced to collect the fuel, said a spokesman. 
    The tanker was driving from the southern port city of Karachi to Lahore, the Punjab provincial capital, when the driver lost control and crashed on the national highway outside Bahawalpur.
    Zulkha Bibi, who was searching for her two sons, was among residents wandering through the area looking for loved ones as the wounded cried out for help.
    'Someone should tell me about my beloved sons, where are they? Are they alive or are they no longer in this world? Please tell me,' she pleaded.   
    Police tried to cordon off the area but were overwhelmed by the villagers who pushed through to reach the truck.
    Eyewitnesses said about 30 motorcycles that had carried villagers to the accident site lay in charred ruins nearby. Eight other vehicles were destroyed, they said.
    Pakistan has an appalling record of fatal traffic accidents due to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
    At least 62 people including women and children were killed in southern Pakistan in 2015 when their bus collided with an oil tanker, starting a fierce blaze that left victims burnt beyond recognition.

    The country has also long struggled to contain a chronic energy crisis, with regular blackouts suffocating industry and exacerbating anger against the government.
    The crash came days after a series of militant attacks killed at least 57 people across the country Friday, unnerving many Pakistanis, with authorities ordering a security crackdown.
    On social media Sunday users posted messages of grief and solidarity with the victims of the oil tanker crash as well as Friday's attacks, as many prayed for a safe Eid.


    Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sahrif has also reached Bahwalpur where he inquired after the affectees. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has shortened his visit and reportedly will directly land here from United Kingdom on Monday.
    Rescue 1122 district officer Dr Kalim told that more than 50 burnt victims were brought to Multan through air-ambulances. Four helicopters of Army Aviation took part in rescue operation, he added.
    Dr Kalim said that more than 18 Rescue 1122 ambulances received burnt victims from Multan international airport and shifted them quickly for treatment.
    An official of health department said one of the injured succumbed to the injuries, while he was being air-lifted and two others expired during treatment.
    Dr. Naheed Anjum, who is in-charge of Burn Centre, said that the victims were in critical condition because they have received 60 to 70 percent burns. “We are trying our best to save their lives”, he said.
    Commissioner added that emergency has been imposed in all hospitals in Multan Division, while additional beds and medical officers are being provided at Burn Center and Nishtar hospital.
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    Item Reviewed: Five out of 59 succumbed to burns in Hospital at Multan -Toll rose to 153 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar