At least 17 passengers died and one was critically injured when a truck collided with a passenger van on Indus Highway in Karak on Tuesday.
The van was en route to Bannu from Rawalpindi while the truck was coming towards Peshawar from DI Khan when the collision occurred.
Visiting the site, Karak Deputy Commissioner Adal Badshah told reporters that around 5:30pm in the evening a truck hit a passenger van near Tor Dhand area.
As a result of the collision, the CNG cylinder fitted in the van exploded, causing a huge fire that killed all the passengers except one, who sustained serious injuries.
He said the authorities couldn’t find the truck driver and presumed he had fled after the accident, leaving behind the vehicle on the road.
Badshah said the people living nearby rushed for the rescue work and shifted the charred bodies to district headquarters hospital Karak.
One of the witnesses, who was coming to Karak from Peshawar, said when they reached Tor Dhand area they saw both the vehicles on fire while the truck driver and cleaner were running towards bushes.
“No one dared to go near the inferno,” he said, adding that they called the fire brigade which reached the spot after 90 minutes. “Till then the fire had gone out and the bodies had been taken to hospital,” he said.
Medical Superintendent Dr Dil Faraz Khan said 17 bodies along with an injured person were brought to the hospital, where he declared an emergency. He said he later transferred the injured man to Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar due to his critical condition after administering first aid.
“All the bodies are charred and disfigured beyond recognition,” he added. However they found two CNICs on the bodies which revealed that the passengers were from Bannu.
The doctor said the bodies covered in shrouds were lying in the hospital. “We have performed postmortems, which reveal that most of the passengers were killed due to blazing fire, which erupted after the explosion of CNG cylinder,” he added.
An official of city police, Shafiq Khattak, said he rushed to the spot along with other police officials after the accident. He explained that due to difficulty in identifying the bodies they were contacting vehicle stands in Bannu, DI Khan, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar to identify the vehicle owners and then reach the relatives. “So far we haven’t filed the case as we are trying to identify the bodies,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2013.