LAHORE - At least six officers of the National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP) were suspended from service, as death toll in the Bahawalpur oil tanker inferno swelled to 181 on Thursday.

A spokesman for the motorway police said that officers were suspended from service in the light of recommendations of an inquiry committee investigating the incident. “The committee has also recommended strict disciplinary action against these officers,” the spokesman said. The action was taken against these officers after a detailed inquiry, he added.

The officers who were suspended from service were identified as DSP Rizwan Shah, Inspector Abdul Samad, Sub-Inspector Wajid Ali, Sub-Inspector Taqi Haider, Sub-Inspector Irfan Shah and Junior Patrol Officer Omar Hussain Shah. Further investigations were under way.

The death toll in the Bahawalpur inferno rose to 181 on Thursday, as another three victims succumbed to burns at Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital and Multan’s Nishtar Hospital. Hundreds of villagers were collecting fuel from an overturned oil tanker when it exploded last week. At least 140 people, including children, had died on the spot in the fire incident, which took place near Ahmadpur East.

According to media reports, the motorway police failed to keep people away from the oil tanker despite a lapse of considerable time. Some reports suggested that these officers were standing there like silent spectators.