At least 153 were killed Sunday when they rushed to collect leaking fuel from a crashed tanker in Bahawalpur, eastern Pakistan, before it suddenly exploded.
The truck veered off the road when the driver lost control, police official Mohammad Akhtar told CNN. As the tanker sat on the side of the road, fuel began leaking out in large pools.
Shortly afterwards an explosion tore the container open like a soda can, engulfing everything around the truck, including women and children, according to the government-run Associated Press of Pakistan.
Many victims died immediately, while others succumbed to their injuries at hospitals.
The explosion happened Sunday morning as hundreds of people from nearby villages, as well as workers at a mango garden — many of them driving cars or motorcycles — rushed to collect the fuel in pots,
Nishtar Hospital, where many of the wounded were taken, said more than 100 people were injured in the blast. Bahawal Victoria Hospital said it was treating 40 victims, all of whom had suffered burns on at least 70% of their bodies.
Bahawalpur Victoria Hospital Dr. Javed Iqbal told CNN the death toll had risen to 153 people as of Monday afternoon.
At the scene of the blast, photos showed the tanker surrounded by the husks of burned-out motorbikes and automobiles, their windows and tires melted away from the heat.
According to APP, the explosion destroyed 75 motorbikes and six automobiles. Bodies were pulled from cars and a motorcycle rickshaw.
A state of emergency was declared in Bahawalpur, Punjab provincial government spokesman Salman Sufi said.