The death toll from an oil tanker explosion in central Pakistan has risen to 174, officials said Thursday, including the driver who warned people scooping up spilled fuel to stay away but was ignored.
The tanker overturned early Sunday on a main highway from Karachi to Lahore while carrying some 40,000 litres of fuel.
It exploded minutes later as crowds from a nearby village gathered to scavenge for fuel, despite admonitions by the driver as well as motorway police to stay away.
“According to our information, 174 people have died of their wounds to date,” Bahawalpur police chief Akhar Abbas told AFP. A medical official confirmed the toll. Abbas said tanker driver Khiyam Muhammad, who sustained burns, also died of his wounds in nearby Multan city on Wednesday.
Motorway police spokesman Imran Shah said a government inquiry into the incident had found at least five police officials guilty of hiding information — though he did not give further details.
“These officials have been suspended with immediate effect as the inquiry continues,” he added.
The tragedy marked a grim start to Eid, the celebrations closing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Pakistan has a poor record of fatal traffic accidents due to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.