Islamabad, Pakistan – At least 13 people have been killed in the southwestern Pakistani district of Qila Saifullah after a collision between a passenger bus and a pick-up truck suspected to be carrying smuggled fuel, officials say.
The accident took place early on Friday morning after the pick-up vehicle sped away from a security checkpoint to evade capture near the town of Qila Saifullah, about 140km north of the provincial capital Quetta, government official Atiq ur Rehman told Al Jazeera.
“At a checkpost they gestured to stop the cars [carrying the smuggled fuel],” he said. “One car escaped from there, and when they chased them they saw that the vehicle had been involved in an accident. Both vehicles fell into a ditch next to the road.”
A fire ignited by the fuel completely engulfed the passenger coach, killing 13 passengers, he said. One man survived the fire with minor injuries, Rehman and disaster management officials said.
The burned bodies of the victims were unidentifiable due to the extent of the fire, and had been shifted to Quetta for DNA testing, local disaster management official Younus Mengal told Al Jazeera.
“We are not sure about what happened to the people who were in the pick-up truck, we did not find any bodies in it,” said Rehman.
Smuggling of fuel, particularly diesel, from oil-rich Iran into Pakistan’s Balochistan province has been a common practice for decades.
The two countries share a roughly 700km border.
Both governments have recently taken steps to tighten security at border crossings, conducting increased border patrols in recent months to curb smuggling and a slew of kidnapping attacks mainly targeting Iranian border guards.