GT Road tragedy: Nine burnt alive in passenger bus explosion

Published: July 13, 2011
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A Pakistani policeman inspects a burnt bus after the compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinders powering it exploded while it was on a highway on the outskirts of the capital Islamabad on July 12, 2011.  PHOTO: AFP

A Pakistani policeman inspects a burnt bus after the compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinders powering it exploded while it was on a highway on the outskirts of the capital Islamabad on July 12, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

A Pakistani rescue team member collects evidence from inside a burnt bus after the compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinders powering it exploded while it was on a highway on the outskirts of the capital Islamabad on July 12, 2011. PHOTO: AFP A Pakistani policeman inspects a burnt bus after the compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinders powering it exploded while it was on a highway on the outskirts of the capital Islamabad on July 12, 2011.  PHOTO: AFP
ISLAMABAD: 

Nine passengers were burnt beyond recognition when a bus carrying 15 passengers caught fire following an explosion on Tuesday afternoon on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road.

Going to Kalar Sayeddan from Rawalpindi, the passenger bus had a stop-over in front of Pakistan Town on the GT Road for dropping off passengers.

“The whole bus was engulfed in flames within a minute after the explosion caused by a gas leakage,” said Haroon Rehman, chief inspector of the Explosives Department who had come to the site to examine the bus and ascertain the cause of fire.

“Nine people have been killed and five injured, including three women,” police official Faisal Memon told AFP.

Malik Ehtisham, one of the passengers, was moments away from disembarking from the bus when it suddenly caught fire. Though critically injured, he was lucky enough to survive among four others. Eighteen-year-old Ehtisham a grade 10 student, was returning from school and was about to get off at the stop-over.

Only the driver, conductor of the van and a woman managed to escape unhurt. The five injured were shifted to the burn centre at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) hospital along with the deceased.

All four gas cylinders of the bus were intact and the police and explosives expert ruled out the possibility that there was another cylinder that had exploded. No traces of explosives were found.

“It was gas leakage. Had it been one of the gas cylinders the whole bus would have been completely destroyed,” said Rehman.

Explaining the cause of fire, he said there was a gas leakage from the gas pipes at certain points which caught fire due to a possible short circuit. The security valves automatically stopped working when the temperature rose, he added.

“Then the gas rushed out with immense pressure. It would not have given many passengers the time to even get out of their seats,” said Rehman.

The expert revealed that poor Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) system installed in the bus was responsible for the accident.

“Well-maintained gas systems do not leak like this”, he said.

Investigating the incident, police were on the trail to arrest the driver of the bus. The conductor, who was in police custody, told the authorities that at the time of the fire, there were about 15 to 17 people on the bus. Authorities said no eye-witnesses came up to provide any account of the incident.

Five of the nine dead – Ansar Mehmood, Tariq Mehmood, Abdul Saeed, Muhammd Razaq and Karim Din – had been identified till the filing of this report.

The remaining bodies have to be identified through DNA testing for which their families have started giving samples, officials in the hospital said. The injured included Haroon, Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Mumtaz and Kaneez. (With additional input from AFP)

Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Jul 12, 2011 - 2:49PM

    US policies winning.

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  • Bhola
    Jul 12, 2011 - 3:50PM

    RAW it is!!

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  • Word Life
    Jul 12, 2011 - 4:26PM

    Extremely Unfortunate

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  • Althar
    Jul 12, 2011 - 4:37PM

    :(. The families of those killed will not even know if their loved ones have died! Children waiting for their dad to return! :(

    What a militant countrywe have become! Allwe are capable of is howling jihad, creating conspiracy theories & living in delusions. If we cant even see the problem of radicalization in front of our eyes, what do i say!

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  • ScoobyDoo
    Jul 12, 2011 - 4:40PM

    Might be CNG cylenders but investigate before believing, we are bound be to do that by Quran.

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  • Musthaq Ahmed
    Jul 12, 2011 - 6:32PM

    @ScoobyDoo:
    Blind faith first thought last

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  • Mirza
    Jul 12, 2011 - 7:26PM

    Why government is not putting a ban on CNG in busses? Public is still paying diesel fare and their lives are in risk due to “Enviornment Friendly CNG bombs”. There have been a lot of CNG cylinder related incidents in public transport and omny busses in near past costing many precious lives.

    Transport mafia is getting richer by looting the poor and middle class.

    CNG in busses and public transport is not providing any benefit to public, this CNG transport is a direct risk to their lives. Government of Pakistan should regularize/ban CNG in public transport and busses to avoid such incidents in future.

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  • Armaan
    Jul 12, 2011 - 10:35PM

    May there souls rest in Peace…..Very sad news.

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  • Altamash Haroon
    Jul 13, 2011 - 12:21AM

    i live nearby to the location of the incident and heard a bang followed by rising smoke that i could see from my house!

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  • ehsanali
    Jul 13, 2011 - 2:32AM

    Pakistan is downplaying the blast!

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  • My Name is Khan
    Jul 13, 2011 - 3:51AM

    But of course Imran Khan and Zaid Hamid do not care about these 15 lives. They are not “strategic assets”. I feel very sorry for the families of all of those on board.

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  • M Mohamed
    Jul 13, 2011 - 1:04PM

    May Allah bless the families ….

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  • Peeru Shah
    Jul 13, 2011 - 7:14PM

    @My Name is Khan:
    For God sake from where imran khan andzaid hamid come ito this discussion

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  • Cautious
    Jul 14, 2011 - 12:07AM

    How about pulling all the CNG buses off the road and having them inspected – its a basic safety measure that any modern country would do automatically when it had become apparent that normal safety procedures had broken down. It’s not rocket science.

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  • Jace khan
    Jul 14, 2011 - 5:15PM

    soooooo bad may there soul rest in peace

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