A bus collided with oil tanker and exploded near Multan in Pakistan. Image Credit: Multan city official

Islamabad: At least 20 people were killed when a passenger bus collided with an oil tanker on the Multan-Sukkur Motorway (M-5) in the early hours of Tuesday, officials said. Six people were injured in the accident.

The rescue officials said that the bus had hit the oil tanker from the back after which the tanker caught fire and exploded. The crash occurred near the central city of Multan in the province of Punjab. The bus was on its way to Karachi from Lahore and departed at 9 pm on August 15.

Rescue officials said that as many as 26 persons including the driver and conductor were on the bus at the time of the accident.

Multan Deputy Commissioner Tahir Wattoo said the accident had taken place around 4am when the passenger bus hit the oil tanker from the backside after which fire erupted. Photos from the accident’s site showed the charred wreckage of the bus and the oil tanker.

Health officers at Nishtar Hospital, Multan, told local media that four of the injured were initially shifted to the facility’s burns unit

The Motorway Police spokesperson said the bus caught fire soon after the crash and it took several hours for the rescue teams to put out the fire. Eyewitnesses reported that the fire was so fierce that the flames could be seen from several miles away. Initial reports suggested that the cause of the crash was the driver falling asleep at the wheel.

President Arif Alvi expressed deep sorrow over the loss of precious lives in a traffic accident and directed authorities to provide every possible medical treatment to the injured. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also expressed grief over the incident and prayed for the deceased and their families. Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi expressed grief over the accident and sought an immediate inquiry into the incident.