ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday ordered Shell Pakistan to pay at least $2.4 million in compensation after more than 200 people were killed when one of its tankers overturned and exploded in a devastating inferno last month.
The tanker contracted by Royal Dutch Shell’s local subsidiary crashed on a main highway in central Punjab province while carrying some 50,000 liters of fuel from Karachi to Lahore on June 25.
It exploded minutes later, sending a fireball through crowds from a nearby village who had gathered to scavenge for the spilled fuel, despite warnings by the driver and police to stay away.
Health officials and police Friday put the death toll, which has continued to rise since the accident, at 218 people and said 38 victims were still in hospital, some in critical condition.
“OGRA (the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority) has found Shell Pakistan responsible for the oil tanker incident and imposed a fine of 10 million rupees ($100,000) on it,” authority spokesman Imran Ghaznavi told AFP.
“Shell Pakistan has also been ordered to pay 1 million rupees compensation to the families of each deceased and 500,000 rupees for each of the injured,” he added.
That would require Shell pay at least $2.48 million to the families of the dead so far. It was not immediately clear how many wounded would receive compensation, or if the death toll might continue to increase.
Ghaznavi said OGRA had sent a list of 21 questions to Shell Pakistan about the accident, but had not yet received an answer.
OGRA’s investigation found that Shell never checked if the private tanker it had hired complied with safety standards, according to a report seen by AFP.
UN sanctions on militant group welcomed
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry has praised the UN for imposing sanctions on a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, which is linked to deadly attacks in the country.
In a statement Friday, the ministry welcomed the move in which the UN Security Council on Thursday added the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar group to a list of organizations and individuals subject to freezing of assets, a travel ban and an arms embargo. The ministry said the UN took this step at Islamabad’s request.
Pakistan often claims that Jamaat-ul-Ahrar operates from neighboring Afghanistan. It imposed a ban on the group last year and launched a crackdown to trace and arrest its leadership.