Tragic Accident at Salang Pass Leaves 19 Dead, 37 Injured After Fuel Tanker Catches Fire in Afghanistan

The latest: At least 19 people have been killed and 37 others have been injured after an oil tanker overturned and caught fire in Afghanistan’s high-altitude Salang pass on Sunday.

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  • After the incident at Salang pass, both sides of the traffic has been halted and passengers have been left stranded.
  • Many helicopters are also present at the incident site.
  • At least 19 people were killed and 37 were injured in the incident, Hekmatullah Shamim, Taliban’s spokesman for the governor of Parwan said.
  • Abdullah Afghan Mal, a senior health official in Parwan, said many of the dead included women and children who were badly burned.
  • However, sources from the ground report that the casualties are much higher than being officially reported. Sources said that after the first fire, another tanker carrying liquefied petroleum gas also exploded inside the Salang tunnel. As per eyewitnesses, at least 63 people have been killed and 30 others have been injured.
  • Rescue teams have so far been unable to get into the Salang tunnel, according to sources. According to sources, the darkness and thick smoke inside the tunnel made it harder to contain the fire and rescue the trapped people. Part of the tunnel’s roof has also collapsed, the source claims.

Zoom out: The Salang pass, one of the highest mountain highways in the world at around 3,650 metres (12,000 feet) was built by Soviet-era specialists in the 50s and includes a 2.6-kilometre tunnel.

  • The pass runs through the Hindu Kush mountain range that connects capital Kabul to the north.
  • The Salang pass is often shut for days because of accidents, heavy snowfalls and avalanches during the winter. In 2010, avalanches killed more than 150 people in the Salang pass.
  • The crossing connects nine northern provinces of Afghanistan to Kabul and the goods from Central Asian countries also reach Kabul and other southern cities of Afghanistan.
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