ATTOCK - At least six people including children and women were burnt to death when a passenger van after colliding with a truck rammed into the gas supply station on GT road near Cadet College Hasanabdal on Sunday.

Police and rescue officials  said that a Peshawar bound passenger van (T4729) coming from Rawalpindi reached Abbotabad chowk near Cadet College rammed into the road side located Sui gas distribution unit as a speedy truck (7775) recklessly driven rammed into the van standing there to board off passengers.

The truck was in such high speed that it took along the van to 200 meters and halted after hitting the gas supply station. The ill fated van trapped between truck and the unit and caught fire.

The cylinder illegally installed in the van also exploded and turned the van into burning oven leaving no chance for passengers on board to escape and all were burnt beyond recognition.

Rescue operation which lasted for over four hours completed when  the main  gas supply line was closed down. “I was coming back after distribution of newspapers at Cadet College when around 5.50am, I heard big bang. It was a horrible scene when I reached the site of the incident when passengers including women and children trapped in the van engulfed with fire were crying for help,” said a newspaper hawker Shahid Khan.

Another eyewitness Zulfiqar Ali, a rickshaw driver, said the fatal truck overtook my three-wheeler from wrong side near bus stand and it seemed  that the truck driver was out of mind so was recklessly driving the vehicle and when I traveled half furlong I saw the passengers van engulfed in fire as the truck rammed into it.”

Asif Khan, a 27 years old man, while tears in his eyes and wandering helplessly told reporters that he boarded his wife on the van and just turned back towards his motorcycle when the speedy truck recklessly driven rammed into it and it caught fire after hitting the gas supply unit.

Zareen Gull, a cart vendor, while talking to this reporter said that there was no time for rescuers to save human lives as the fire at once engulfed the van in flames before fire tenders from nearby TMA complex reached the spot soon after the incident. District Police officer Zahid Nawaz Marwat, district coordination officer Rana Akbar Hayat, SSP Motorway Police Najeeb Ur Rehman, ASP Hassanabdal Dr Ammra Sherazi, Assistant Commissioner Jannat Hussain  and district emergency officer Mian Mohammad Ishfaq reached the incident scene and supervised the rescue operation.

District emergency officer Ishfaq while talking to newsmen said that as many as six charred bodies, beyond recognition were retrieved from the incident site and shifted to mortuary at POF hospital Wah Cantt. He said that the bodies only could be identified through DNA test. District coordination officer Rana Akbar Hayat said that all possible resources were utilised during the rescue operation. He said that cleaner of the truck identified as Mashuq Ali received multiple injuries and was shifted to PIMS Islamabad for necessary treatment. He said that the truck driver identified as Kamran is among the dead.

Meanwhile, expressing grief over the loss of lives, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has directed the authorities concerned to submit a report on the incident.

As per the Rescue 1122 and police sources, the van travelling from Rawalpindi to Peshawar caught fire after hitting a gas pipeline following the collision with the truck. The rescuers reached the spot and extinguished the fire.

Meanwhile, people expressed sorrow and grief over the accidents which took precious lives the other day. Six students died and twelve others were injured as the roof of a school collapsed in Karak district. As many as 13 persons burnt to death and four injured in a collision between a truck and passenger van near Hassan Abdal while four persons were killed in a blast that occurred in Panjgur district of Baluchistan near Pak-Iran border.

The former servicemen of Mandi Bahauddin expressed grief over the loss of life in the three incidents and condole with families of the victims. Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society District Vice President Rana Maqsood suggested to PTI leadership that instead of holding celebrations on Sunday at Islamabad over the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, the money likely to be spent on such a function should be donated to the heirs of the victims. He also demanded reconstruction of the school building collapsed and damaged. Instead of holding concert as part of the celebrations. He also suggested marking Thanksgiving Day by offering Nawafal and distributing charity to the indigents.