SHEIKHUPURA - At least 15 people, including nine children, were burnt to death and 26 injured when a tanker carrying liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) collided with a car and the gas leakage fuelled an inferno engulfing the vehicle and nearby buildings in limits of Manawala Police Station near Nankana Sahib on Wednesday morning.

The dead included five members of a family, a female teacher. According to reports reaching here, an LPG tanker after negotiating a sharp turn collided with a car coming from the opposite direction on Manawala-Nankana Road near Kotwar bus stop. The tanker after being skidded of the road turned turtle and its gas started to leak. The flames engulfed the auto rickshaws and two cars, besides roadside shops which burnt to ashes. Nine people were burnt alive on the spot including 5 school-going students riding on two auto rickshaws.

They were identified as Shazia, 22, her brother Hamza, 7, two brothers Munib, 5 and Hasib 7. A Khanqah Dogran-based journalist of a private TV channel, Amjad, also burnt to death along with his wife. They were riding a car. An ASI Sikandar and two police personal also died after receiving burn injuries. The tanker driver was also among the dead while his identity could not be ascertained. The five members of a family who lost their lives in the incident were identified as Kiran 18, Shazia 22, Zubaira 9, Zafrullah 15 and a school teacher Shagufta riding in an auto rickshaw.

Two motorcycles, two cars, two auto rickshaws and two shops were burnt completely. DCO Sheikhupura Riaz Ijaz who reached the spot immediately after the incident, while talking to media, said apparently the accident happened due to thick fog when two vehicles car and LPG tanker collided with each other. The visibility was quite low, the DCO added. “However, an inquiry has been initiated to ascertained the actual cause of the accident,” the DCO said. The rescue teams also rushed to the site after the incident and took part in the operation, shifting the injured to Sheikhupura, Nankana DHQ hospitals and in Lahore and Allied Hospital Faisalabad. The locals also participated in the rescue operation.

The incident spread a wave of panic and grief among the residents of the area. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also directed the district administration to hold an inquiry into the incident and submit its report as early as possible.

Agencies add: The explosion also burnt 15 shops to ashes. Rescue official Muhammad Azam said that 12 people were in critical state. All the bodies were burnt and some of them were burnt beyond recognition, he said. The police have registered a case and started investigation.

According to eyewitnesses, the accident occurred when the tanker driver lost control of the vehicle while overtaking another vehicle near a U-turn.

Twelve seriously injured were sent to hospitals in Faisalabad and Lahore.

Rescue teams also recovered bodies from the vehicles. Fire fighters were also called in to extinguish the huge fire erupted after the explosion.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has directed the authorities concerned to provide every possible medical treatment to the injured.