KARACHI: A driver of a dump truck was burnt to death when the vehicle collided with a 22-wheeler semi-trailer truck after the former's brakes failed near DHA City on the M-9 Motorway on Friday afternoon. The 22-wheeler, which is believed to have been transporting a chemical substance, caught fire as a result of the collision. At least two other drivers were critically injured in the accident.
The ensuing blaze was so intense that it could be seen miles away. At least four other vehicles, including an empty oil tanker, another dump truck and a Shehzore mini-truck, were charred in the aftermath. Fortunately, the drivers managed to jump out of their vehicles in time, before the fire engulfed their vehicles too.
On receiving information of the incident, rescue services, Motorway Police, local police and Rangers personnel reached the spot. Several fire tenders and rescue teams of Frontier Works Organisation, DHA City, Bahria Town and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation reached the scene and started efforts to control the blaze.
The firefighters, however, had to face immense difficulties to control the blaze, as it spread quickly and lapped onto the nearby vehicles. The rescue teams immediately transported the two injured drivers to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. The deceased victim could not be identified as the body had been charred beyond recognition.
Motorway Police officer Noor Muhammad told The Express Tribune that the accident occurred at around 12:05pm and when his team reached the site hardly two minutes later, the vehicles had already caught on fire. "We were unable to figure out how many vehicles had caught fire, so we contacted the fire department and other rescue organisations immediately," said Muhammad.
According to the initial investigation, the brakes of the sand-filled truck failed, due to which it collided into the 22-wheeler filled with a chemical substance, causing a fire to erupt immediately. In the commotion that followed, another 22-wheeler collided with an empty oil tanker which was returning to the city after supplying oil. A second dump truck loaded with sand also collided with the oil tanker, forcing it off the road. The fire soon spread to another Shehzore mini-truck that had pulled up nearby.
DHA City's Dr Zain told The Express Tribune that their fire tender and a medical team also reached the spot soon after the accident, where they retrieved the burnt body of a person and managed to rescue two injured persons, who were immediately dispatched to Jinnah hospital.
The firefighters managed to bring the blaze under control after the efforts of at least three hours. The major difficulty was caused by the spilt oil which kept reigniting the blaze each time it was put out.
Meanwhile, Motorway Police tried to divert the traffic to alternative route and keep the traffic flowing on both the tracks. However, the vehicles moving up and down the highway on the same track caused further confusion and commuters were stuck in the ensuing jam for at least six hours.
One young man, in a passenger bus, said he was travelling to Karachi to appear in the Federal Public Service Commission's test, but ended up spending several hours on the highway and ultimately missed the test. Another citizen was travelling to Karachi to attend a funeral but had to turn back to Hyderabad because of the traffic jam.
It took two heavy cranes to remove vehicles off the road. Initially, three of the vehicles were removed to the side of the road, but when the crane attempted to move the 22-wheeler and the dump truck responsible for the accident, fire erupted again.
This time, the firefighters present on the scene managed to quickly put out the fire, after which the two vehicles were lifted to the side of the highway and the track was opened to traffic.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2018.
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