LAHORE – At least seven passengers including two children were burnt alive and four others wounded seriously when the gas-cylinder exploded in a moving van near Manga Mandi at Multan Road, rescue workers said on Monday. Police said that seven people including three women and two kids were burnt alive when one of the two gas-cylinders installed in the van exploded, shortly after it caught fire owing to gas leakage. A spokesman of the National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP) said that the Lahore-bound Hiace van (C-1804) with 18 passengers on board was coming from Chichawatni when its one cylinder exploded, seconds after it caught fire due to gas leakage near Shamkay Bhattian at Multan Road, the vicinity of Manga Mandi police. There were two cylinders fixed in the van for alternative fuel, police investigators observed. An eyewitness told the motorway police that the van caught fire when the driver tried to switch over from CNG to LNG fuel. One of the injured told the police that the van driver got filled the LPG-cylinder at Phool Nagar by-pass because of CNG-gas holidays in the region. The driver asked the conductor to change over from CNG to LNG-fuel near Shamkay Bhattian. As the helper switched on the LNG-filled cylinder, its gas started leaking and it also caught fire instantly. Muhammad Imran, spokesmen of the NH&MP, said that “according to the preliminary investigations, the gas-cylinder exploded when one of the passengers lighted his cigarette. The driver and conductor of the van managed to escape from the spot. The road mishap also created worst traffic mess on both sides of the Multan Road, where long-queues of vehicles were visible, trapped in the traffic chaos. The injured were shifted to the Jinnah Hospital, where the condition of one of the wounded was said to be critical. Five of the deceased persons were later identified as Muhammad Tariq, 26, a resident of Pakpattan, his wife Sajida Parvin, 25, daughter Kiran Tariq, 6, and six-month-old son, Muhammad Omar, and Abdul Hafeez, a resident of Okara district. The identification of another two women killed in the accident was yet to be ascertained. The NH&MP officers immediately reached the spot and launched rescue efforts to pull out the passengers with the help of local people. The Motorway police officers also contacted the emergency service (Rescue-1122) and local police, who also joined the operation. On the orders of DIG Rai Altaf Hussain, officials said, a fact-finding inquiry committee has been constituted to probe into the mishap. SP (Investigations) Sadar police division, Muntazir Mehdi, said that a case had been registered against the driver and conductor of the van. The police also removed the bodies to the morgue. Further investigations were underway.