Fuel tanker explodes on highway in Pakistan, killing at least 154

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A fuel tanker has overturned and exploded on a highway in eastern Pakistan, killing at least 154 people and injuring hundreds more, many of whom had gathered in an attempt to collect fuel from the leaking tanker.

The accident happened on early Sunday morning when the driver of a tanker carrying about 25,000 liters (6,600 gallons) of fuel lost control as a result of a blown tire, causing the vehicle to overturn on a highway near Ahmedpur East in Punjab province.

As oil began leaking from the tanker, scores of people rushed to the scene in an attempt to collect the fuel in bottles and other containers. A massive explosion occurred about 45 minutes later when someone near the scene lit a cigarette, a spokesman for the emergency services said.

Footage from the scene showed dozens of bodies burnt beyond recognition, as well as cars and motorbikes which were destroyed in the blaze. Those caught up in the explosion included people who were watching what was happening.

Authorities said late on Sunday evening that at least 154 people were confirmed to have died, while more than 200 others were taken to a number of hospitals, where many remain in a critical condition with serious burns. A number of people are also unaccounted-for, indicating that the death toll could rise.

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