M Afzaal Hameed and Baqul Mohsin

BAHAWALPUR - A passenger van crashed into a pick-up truck at a busy highway intersection near Bahawalpur on Tuesday, leaving 26 people, including women and children, dead.

Sohail Tajik, Bahawalpur district police officer, told the media that the accident took place when a passenger van collided with an oncoming truck on highway near Bahawalpur, a private television channel reported.

Highway Patrolling Police Inspector Amir Sahazad said that the wagon, coming from Mubarikpur, was moving on the Bahawalpur bypass when it slammed into the truck, which was going on the bypass, as both did not slow down on the turn.

He said that the wagon driver died on the spot and the truck driver and two more people on the truck got critically injured. The Rescue 1122 rescuers cut the truck body to pull the men out of the truck and shifted them to the Bahawal Victoria Hospital in Bahawalpur.

An eyewitness said that both the drivers were driving so fast that they could not stop their vehicles.

The local Rescue 1122 chief Dr Asif Rahim Channer said: “We received a call at 11:40 am about the accident by police and we send the six ambulances to the sight of the accident. The rescuers found 20 dead bodies at the spot, while 7 critically injured and 3 people with minor injuries who were shifted to the Bahawal Victoria Hospital. One injured woman died on her to the hospital.”

He told the media that the rescue operation continued for 90 minutes in which six ambulances and 30 rescuers took part.

The doctor, in charge of the Emergency Unit of Bahawal Victoria Hospital, said that doctors were doing their best to save the life of the injured people.

The Bahawalpur DPO said that 14 bodies were identified and the process was underway to hand over the bodies to their relatives.

He also confirmed that at least seven women and four children were among the dead.

Pakistan has a high rate of fatal traffic accidents, most of which are blamed on reckless driving, poorly maintained vehicles and bad road conditions.