19 people were killed when a fuel tanker overturned and caught fire inside a tunnel in Afghanistan

 19 people were killed and dozens injured when a fuel tank overturned and caught fire inside a tunnel in eastern Afghanistan, officials said Sunday.


The accident occurred late Saturday in Parwan province, north of Kabul, leaving travelers stranded on both sides of the mountain pass.


Hekmatullah Shamim, spokesman for the Parwan governor, told reporters that at least 19 people were killed and 32 injured in the incident.


A spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works, Hamidullah Mesbah, told AFP earlier, "Saturday night, a fuel truck overturned and caught fire in the Salang Tunnel, and the fire spread to several other cars."


Among the dead were "many women and children who suffered severe burns," said Abdullah Afghan Mal, a senior official in charge of health affairs in Parwan province, but said it was difficult to give additional details due to the condition of the bodies.


The Salang Pass, located in Parwan province, north of Kabul, was closed to traffic and rescue teams were deployed at the scene.

The Salang Tunnel is located at an altitude of 3,650 meters and extends over 2.6 km. It was built in the 1950s during the Soviet era and crosses the Hindu Kush mountain range.


The authorities regularly have to close the tunnel for several days due to the many accidents as well as heavy snowfall and avalanches in the winter.


In 2010 more than 150 people were killed in avalanches in Salang.

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