LAHORE - At least 25 people were wounded when a gas cylinder exploded at a sale point on the main Wahdat Road in Mustafa Town, rescue workers said yesterday. The entire structure caught fire soon after the explosion, eyewitnesses said.

Hospital sources said that the condition of at least eight blast victims was said to be serious till late Wednesday night. Several ambulances were seen racing towards the site to help the victims following the explosion.

At least 22 people were shifted to the Jinnah hospital with multiple burns. Three of the 25 victims who received minor injuries were discharged after being provided medical treatment on-the-spot.

Rescue workers say they sent ambulances to the spot as they received a “call for help” at about 04:06pm. Most of the victims were said to be labourers.

Dozens of customers were present at the sale-point when a gas cylinder exploded in an under-construction food outlet located adjacent to the makeshift. As a result, the sale point caught fire. The blaze spread quickly as plastic items caught fire. “Within a few seconds, the whole structure was on fire. It was terrible,” a visitor Muhammad Aslam told reporters at the site.

An official said that at least 22 people were shifted to the Jinnah hospital with burns. Eight men sustained more than 50 percent burns and their condition was said to be serious. Five of them were battling for life in the burn unit. 

They were identified by hospital staff as 22-year-old Zaman (with 95 percent burn injuries), 30-year-old Saleem (85 percent burns), 45-year-old Mazhar (98 percent burns), 21-year-old Abuzar (70 percent burns), 23-year-old Rameez (50 percent burns), 45-year-old Shabbir (50 percent burns) and 40-year-old Arif (45 percent burns).

Authorities yesterday ordered an inquiry to probe into the incident. The blaze caused traffic mess on the busy Wahdat Road as fire and thick smoke was seen from a considerable distance. A number of people gathered near the site soon after the explosion. Police also reached the spot to control the situation to provide clear passage to the ambulances.

The firefighting units also reached the site and managed to put out the blaze after an hour long battle. Further investigations were underway.