KARACHI: Six members of a family, including four children, burned to death while five others suffered critical injuries when a fire broke out in a moving van in New Karachi area on Friday night, according to the police, hospital and rescue officials.
Bilal Colony SHO Fardad Shaikh said that around 10 to 11 people were traveling in the van when it caught fire near Do Minute Chowrangi of New Karachi and rammed against a rickshaw.
At least 11 persons who suffered burn injuries were rushed to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, where doctors pronounced six of them dead on arrival, said police surgeon Dr. Qarar Ahmed Abbasi.
He said that four children and one woman were among the dead. The police surgeon said that the condition of five injured was critical as they had suffered up to 90 percent burn injuries. There were different versions of how the tragic incident occurred.
A spokesperson for Edhi Foundation said that the fire broke out in the van when it hit the rickshaw. The SHO, however, claimed that the fire had erupted in the van before it hit the rickshaw.
Another police officer, Mushtaq, quoted witnesses as saying that the vehicle was already in flames when it hit the rickshaw. He said the initial probe had revealed that a bottle filled with fuel was hanging in the van and it caught fire when one of the passengers lit a cigarette.
The van driver is among the injured. The ill-fated family was going to attend a marriage ceremony.
Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon said the police were investigating the case. He said eyewitnesses were giving conflicting accounts of the incident. He said officials of bomb disposal squad and the fire brigade had been called to ascertain the cause of the fire.