A PACKED bus crashed into an oil tanker in southern Pakistan early yesterday morning, killing 57 people and leaving their remains charred beyond recognition.
Dr Seemi Jamali, who heads the emergency section at Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre in Karachi, where the remains were taken, said they had received 57 bodies. Four other people were injured, she said.
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The hospital would have to carry out DNA tests to identify the victims, she added.
The bus was en route to the town of Shikarpur from the southern port city of Karachi when the collision occurred along a stretch of dilapidated road.
Mir Mumtaz Hussain Jakhrani, the minister of transportation for Sindh province, said the crash had happened when the bus hit an oil tanker about 31 miles outside Karachi.
A relative of one of the victims said his sister and two uncles and their families had been on board the bus. “A total of nine members of my family were on board and nobody survived,” Abdul Hafeez said.
The interior of the bus was completely destroyed in the blaze. The victims included women and children.
Senior police official Rao Muhammad Anwaar said: “According to initial reports, the bus hit the oil tanker, which was coming in a wrong direction.
“The bus caught fire after the accident, killing at least 30 people.”
Mr Anwaar added: “We are trying to ascertain if the driver of the oil tanker was solely at fault or whether the bus driver also showed negligence.”
A few passengers escaped unhurt after they jumped out of the bus windows, another police official, Muhammad Jan, said.
Television channels showed live footage from the fiery crash site, where rescue workers were busily evacuating dead bodies and the injured.
It was the second major fatal crash in Sindh province in less than three months.
Pakistan has an appalling record of fatal traffic accidents due to the country’s poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
The mountainous areas of Kashmir and the north, where drivers career around narrow hairpin bends over deep ravines with scant regard for safety, are particularly prone to accidents, while the condition of roads in the south can also be dangerous.
At least 57 people, including 18 children, were killed in November last year when a bus collided with a goods truck loaded with coal near the town of Khairpur, 300 miles north of Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province.
The recovery equipment available to Pakistani emergency services is often basic, and when crashes happen away from major towns, rescue efforts can take some time, often reducing injured passengers’ chances of survival.
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