In Afghanistan’s high-altitude Salang pass, an oil tanker overturned and caught fire, killing 19 people and wounding dozens, according to authorities on Sunday. The accident occurred late on Saturday in the Parwan province, which is north of Kabul, and trapped travellers on both sides of the mountain pass. According to Hamidullah Misbah, spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Works, at least 19 individuals were killed and 37 others were injured in the accident. He also noted that the number of casualties was likely to climb.
“An oil tanker overturned and caught fire in the Salang tunnel, which then set several other vehicles on fire,” Misbah told AFP.
Abdullah Afghan Mal, a senior health official in Parwan, said many casualties comprised of women and children who suffered major burns.
“Among the dead it was very hard to identify who was a male and who was a female,” he said.
According to authorities, the pass has been closed down for traffic while rescue teams in helicopters arrive at the scene.
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Around 3,650 metres (12,000 feet) high, the Salang pass is one of the world’s highest mountain passes. It was constructed in the 1950s by Soviet engineers and features a 2.6-kilometre tunnel.
The pass connects the northern part of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul to the Hindu Kush mountain range.
The Salang pass, hailed as an engineering marvel upon completion, is frequently closed for days at a stretch due to mishaps, significant snowfalls, and avalanches in the winter.
(With inputs from agencies)
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