Fire in a tunnel in Afghanistan, at least 19 dead


At least 19 people have been killed and dozens injured in a fire inside a road tunnel in Afghanistan, local officials say.

An oil tanker overturned and caught fire in the Salang tunnel – which connects the capital Kabul with the northern provinces – on Saturday evening.

The fire spread to other vehicles before it was extinguished the next morning.

Photos posted on social media showed several vehicles completely burnt after the incident.

“A fuel tanker exploded… I fell. My clothes caught fire,” said an injured witness in the tunnel.

Some of the bodies were badly burned, said a senior health official in Parwan, “among the dead it was very difficult to identify who was male and who was female.”

At least 32 people were injured, another official said. It is believed that the number of victims may still rise.

The Ministry of Public Works said the crossing was closed to traffic while rescue operations were underway.

The Salang Tunnel is 2.6 km long and is located at an altitude of about 3400 meters.

Hailed as an engineering masterpiece upon its completion in the 1960s by the Soviet Union, the main road through the Hindu Kush mountains is often closed for days due to accidents and avalanches.

A fire in the tunnel in 1982 killed at least 400 people, although some estimates put the death toll in the thousands.

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