PESHAWAR  -   At least 15 people were killed and three others injured when a gas cylinder installed in a passenger van exploded on the main Indus Highway in Karak yesterday.

Police said the accident happened in Speena Banda area of Karak when a Dera Ismail Khan-bound Peshawar passenger van hit a pick-up coming from the opposite direction. The passenger vehicle caught fire after the collision as the gas cylinder exploded. Local people retrieved the dead bodies and injured on self-help basis. Police also reached the scene later. An official said passengers’ bodies were beyond recognition due to burning in the fire.

The bodies and the injured were shifted to District Headquarters Hospital. However, the injured were stated to be in critical condition. Emergency was declared in the hospital after the incident.

District police also initiated investigation into the incident. Sources said such incidents often happened due to use of substandard cylinders in vehicles. Social circles of the area have called upon authorities to keep check on use of substandard cylinders to avoid occurrence of such horrible incidents. Earlier in the day, a man was killed and 10 others injured when two passenger vans collided with each other due to dense fog in Lakki Marwat.

The dead also included women.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in Karak incident where a passenger coach caught fire after colliding with a van. In a statement issued in Peshawar, the chief minister expressed grief over the loss of lives in the tragic road mishap. He also prayed for the eternal peace of departed souls and granting courage to bereaved family members. He also prayed for the early recovery of those injured in the incident.