The death toll in the oil tanker inferno in Pakistan rose to 194 today, prompting the government to suspend six officials including a DSP-level officer for negligence that led to one of the worst fire accidents in the country. Six children were among the 19 victims who died during the last 24 hours, a Punjab government official told PTI. “The death toll in the oil tanker inferno today rose to 194 as 19 more patients succumbed to their injuries during the last 24 hours,” he said. The patients breathed their last at Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad burn centres, the official said. The death toll may go up further as most of the injured have 60 to 100 per cent burns, he said. At least 120 people including women and children were killed on the spot and 140 injured last week, a day before Eid, when they rushed to collect leaking fuel from the crashed oil tanker in Bahawalpur, some 400 km from Lahore. The tanker caught fire after the explosion and some 50,000 litres of petrol spilled from the vehicle.
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The tanker, coming from Karachi to Lahore, veered off the road when the driver lost control after one of its tyres burst. The tanker exploded after someone lit a cigarette. Meanwhile, according to motorway police spokesman Imran Shah, six officials have been suspended on the recommendation of the departmental inquiry committee probing into the incident on the basis of technical data. “DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police) Rizwan Shah, inspector Abdul Samad, sub-inspectors Wajid Ali, Taqi Haider, Irfan Shah and junior patrolling official Umar Husain Shah have been suspended from their posts with immediate effect over their negligence and hiding facts from senior officers,” he said. Strict punishment has been recommended against the suspended officers, the official added.
Punjab province Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has also constituted a four-member inquiry committee to investigate the Bahawalpur tragedy.
“It will investigate the incident from every aspect and also review the steps adopted by the local police, motorway police and the administration concerned after the incident. “This committee will examine what steps were taken by the officials of these departments after they arrived at the spot and present its report to the chief minister in five days,” an official said.