At least seven people were burnt alive and 13 others injured, five of them critically, when a tanker filled with highly inflammable material caught fire after overturning near here on Saturday.
The mishap took place near the Chaori check post on the Mumbai-Ahmedbad Highway at around 3 pm, said officials in the district disaster control room. The tanker, said to be carrying petrol, went up in flames after overturning and exploding. Three persons travelling in the vehicle and four others walking on the road were burnt alive, said control room chief Jaideep Visave.
Fire-engines and ambulances from nearby towns were rushed to the spot. The explosion was so powerful that at least six vehicles, including two six-seater auto-rickshaws, a bike, two cars and a handcart in the vicinity of the flaming vehicle were damaged, said the police. The leaping flames from the burning vehicle also gutted a portion of a hotel located nearby.
The highway was partially thrown open to traffic in the evening after the fire brigade and highway authorities managed to extinguish the flames and tow the tanker away.
Among those injured admitted to hospital in Kasa, the condition of five was said to be critical, while some others among the injured were shifted to Thane civil hospital, said the police. Most of the victims are charred beyond recognition, and the police are planning DNA tests, said sources.