Early today the tanker was apparently speeding down the wrong side of the road when it ploughed into the bus, carrying many women and children. The driver of the tanker reportedly fled the scene after the crash.
Some passengers travelling on the roof of the bus were able to jump to safety but many of those inside were trapped. Four other people were also injured in the crash.
‘We have received more than 57 dead bodies but the death toll may rise as most of them are completely burnt and stuck to each other,’ doctor Semi Jamali at Karachi’s Jinnah hospital told AFP.
The bus carrying some 50 passengers hit the oil tanker, which according to initial reports was coming in a wrong direction,’ senior police official Rao Muhammad Anwaar told AFP.
‘The bus caught fire after the accident…’ he said.
The bus was en route to the town of Shikarpur from the southern port city of Karachi when the collision occurred along a stretch of dilapidated road on the Super Highway.
The victims included women and children, some of whom were charred beyond recognition, Anwaar added.
A small number of passengers managed to escape out the bus windows and were unharmed, according to another police official Muhammad Jan.
‘We are trying to ascertain if the driver of the oil tanker was solely at fault or whether the bus driver also showed negligence,’ Anwaar said.
Pakistan has an appalling record of fatal traffic accidents due to poor roads, badly-maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
Television channels showed live footage from the fiery crash site where rescue workers were busily evacuating dead bodies and injured.
Pictures from the scene show the passenger bus completely gutted and so badly burnt only the skeleton of the vehicle remains.
Family members of those who were killed on board the bus were seen weeping with grief as they held each other after learning the news outside Karachi hospital.
It was the second major fatal crash in Sindh province in less than three months.
At least 57 people, including 18 children, were killed in November last year when a bus collided with a goods truck loaded with coal near Khairpur town, 450 kilometres (300 miles) north of Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province.
The recovery equipment available to Pakistani emergency services is often basic, and when crashes happen away from major towns, rescue efforts can take some time, often reducing injured passengers’ chances of survival.
The mountainous areas of Kashmir and the north, where drivers career around narrow hairpin bends over deep ravines with scant regard for safety, are particularly prone to accidents, while the condition of roads in the south can also be dangerous.
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