Pakistan Fuel Tanker Truck Explosion Kills At Least 140

At least 140 people were killed Sunday when they rushed to collect leaking fuel from a crashed tanker in Bahawalpur, eastern Pakistan, before it suddenly exploded. The truck veered off the road when the driver lost control, police official Mohammad Akhtar told CNN. As the tanker sat on the side of the road, fuel began leaking out in large pools.

It's not known what cause the wreck to ignite, but some people gathering at the scene began smoking cigarettes and using their cell phones to inform friends and relatives of the crash. "Sparking from cell phones could ignite fire," Haroon-ur-Rasheed, a former police official who now handles emergency and rescue operations in Bahawalpur, told the government-run Associated Press of Pakistan. He added the tanker also was fitted with batteries that could have sparked the blaze.

The explosion happened Sunday morning as hundreds of people from nearby villages, as well as workers at a mango garden -- many of them driving cars or motorcycles -- rushed to collect the fuel in pots, according to APP.
The blast engulfed everything around the truck, including women and children, APP reported. Many victims died immediately, while others succumbed to their injuries at hospitals.

Nishtar Hospital, where many of the wounded were taken, said more than 100 people were injured in the blast. Bahawal Victoria Hospital said it was treating 40 victims, all of whom had suffered burns on at least 70% of their bodies.
A state of emergency was declared in Bahawalpur, Punjab provincial government spokesman Salman Sufi said.