At least 62 people, including women and children, were today killed when their overcrowded bus collided head-on with a speeding oil tanker, sparking a major fire in southern Pakistan, in the deadliest road accident to hit the country in recent times.
The deadly accident occurred in the early hours on the Super Highway about 50 kms from here in Sindh province as the bus was travelling from Karachi to Shikarpur, Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Siddiqui said.
The overcrowded bus, carrying around 80 people with some sitting on its roof, collided with an oil tanker coming from the opposite direction and wrong side of the road.
“It was the mistake on part of drivers of both vehicles as they were overspeeding and the passenger bus was overloaded with some passengers even sitting on the roof,” Siddiqui told
The driver of the tanker is absconding.
“It was a very tragic incident because those killed include women and children and most were burnt alive after the bus and tanker caught fire,” Siddiqui said.
He said rescue workers recovered bodies of children stuck to their mothers as they were apparently trapped after the collision and could not escape the fire.
The devastating incident also killed nine members of a Karachi family, including its 80-year-old head and a two-year- old toddler.
So far, 62 bodies were recovered from the site and sent to the state-owned Jinnah Hospital here.
Seemi Jamali, the emergency department incharge at the hospital, said most of the bodies were beyond recognition and could only be identified with DNA tests.
An unspecified number of injured have also been shifted to the Jinnah Hospital, where emergency has been declared.
“The death toll has climbed since this morning as rescue workers recovered bodies from the burnt vehicles after the fire was put off,” she said.
The bus was completely burned on the inside due to the fire.
“Some even tried to save their lives by trying to leap out of the windows and from the roof of the bus,” senior police official in Shikarpur Nadeem Khan said.
Earlier, senior police official Rao Muhammad Anwaar said the bus hit the oil tanker and caught fire.
A probe has been launched but it appeared the poor condition of the single track road also contributed to the fatal accident, another senior police official Aamir Shiekh said.
“We are trying to ascertain if the driver of the oil tanker was solely at fault or whether the bus driver also showed negligence,” Anwaar said.
One survivor told Geo News channel that the passenger bus was overcrowded and the driver was also overspeeding.
“He lost control and panicked when the oil tanker driver lost control and came the wrong way,” he said.
Television channels showed both vehicles on fire as rescue workers and fire engines were on duty at the site.
Roads in Sindh province are notorious for being poorly maintained while lax checking by the highway police also emboldens drivers to overspeed during night.
Last November, around 57 people, including women and children, were killed in a similar accident when a passenger bus collided with a container carrying coal near Khairpur on the Super Highway.
In March, 43 people were killed when an oil tanker crashed into a trailer tractor on the highway.
Close to 9,000 road accidents are reported to the police every year since 2011, killing over 4,500 people on average, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
In 2013, around 4,672 people were killed in 8,885 road accidents in Pakistan.
Bad roads, driver’s negligence, overspeeding and overloading are the main reasons behind major accidents in Pakistan.