QUETTA: Twenty-two people were killed and one critically injured when a passenger van fell into a ditch in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province on Wednesday morning, a senior official confirmed.
Between 6,000-8,000 people die each year in accidents on single-lane roads nicknamed ‘killer highways’ that spread over thousands of miles in the impoverished province, according to motorway authorities in Balochistan.
Fatal road accidents are common in Pakistan, where traffic rules are rarely followed and roads in many rural areas are in poor condition.
Wednesday’s accident occurred at 8:30 am when a van carrying passengers from Loralai district to Zhob city fell into a ditch in Akhtarzai area due to over speeding, Killa Saifullah Deputy Commissioner Qaseem Kakar confirmed.
Akhtarzai is a tribal area located at an elevation of 1,572 metres in Zhob.
“Eighteen bodies and one critically injured have been shifted to the District Headquarters Hospital Killa Saifullah while rescue workers are busy retrieving further bodies,” Kakar said.
The ill-fated van, with approximately 23 people on board, had left Loralai for Zhob, the district’s deputy commissioner, Hafiz Muhammad Qasim said adding
“The vehicle fell from a hilltop near Akhtarzai and 22 travellers aboard were reportedly killed in the accident.”
Akhtarzai is a tribal area located at an elevation of 1,572 metres in Zhob. Rescue 1122 officials said that a minor boy was injured in the accident and was referred to Quetta for medical treatment.
The bodies of all the deceased passengers, they added, have been shifted to the Killa Saifullah District Headquarters Hospital. The deceased included five children, five women, and 11 men.
The DC said that an emergency had been imposed at hospitals located in the area, and said teams from Quetta had been called in for the rescue operation, which ended at around 1pm.
Meanwhile, President Arif Alvi and Foreign Minister Bilawal Butto Zardari expressed grief over the loss of lives in the incident. “The president prayed for peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families to bear the loss with fortitude.
Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo extended his condolences to the deceased and their families. He also instructed the provincial health department to provide the best medical treatment to the injured child.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called on the authorities to take adequate steps to avoid such accidents in the future.