ISLAMABAD: Families of four victims awaited DNA test results to identify their loved ones who were killed on Tuesday, along with eight others, when a passenger van caught fire after an accident on the outskirts of Islamabad.
Of the seven injured, three are still in critical condition.
The Toyota Hiace van, in an effort to save an oncoming pedestrian, hit the median on the Grand Trunk Road, according to the Golra police.
The vehicle caught fire following the accident, after gas leaked from its three Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) cylinders.
The National Highways and Motorway police’s rescue teams rushed to the spot but the vehicle had been reduced to ashes before fire tenders could extinguish the blaze. The rescuers had to cut the vehicle to retrieve bodies.
“There were people who did not get a chance to move at all before the fire suddenly engulfed them,” said one of the rescue officials.
The bodies and injured were shifted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) hospital while the wreckage of the vehicle was shifted to Golra police station.
Most of the people killed were residents of Wah area of Rawalpindi, the police said, adding that quite a few of them were students.
As news of the tragedy spread, relatives of the passengers on board the van gathered at Pims.
Eight of the 12 bodies were identified by the victims’ relatives but four were burnt beyond recognition, doctors said.
Meanwhile, four of the seven injured were discharged after being administered emergency treatment.
The deceased includes the 25-year-old Arshad Iqbal, brother of the van’s driver Asif Iqbal. Asif, meanwhile, was seriously injured but doctors said his condition was stable.
Sources said Asif’s family was trying to influence the police, and portray Arshad as the van’s driver – in a bid to save Asif from subsequent legal inquiries.
The Golra police, however, said they had registered a case of reckless driving against Asif, who was under arrest and was being treated for his injuries at Pims.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2011.