Fuel tanker explosion in Afghanistan tunnel kills 31 people

Women and children among dead, with fears that death toll could rise after fire in Salang Tunnel

Medical workers at the scene of a fuel tanker explosion in the Salang Tunnel in northern Afghanistan. AP
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A fuel tanker explosion in a tunnel north of the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday night killed 31 people and injured at least 37 others.

The Salang Tunnel, about 120 kilometres north of Kabul in Parwan province, passes through the Hindu Kush mountains and connects northern Afghanistan with the capital and southern regions. The 2.5-km tunnel was built in the 1960s with the assistance of Soviet engineers.

It was not clear what caused the incident, which happened at about 8.30pm.

Provincial spokesman Said Himatullah Shamim said women and children were among the victims of the explosion.

Survivors were trapped under rubble and the number of casualties could rise, he said.

The Afghan Defence Ministry said on Twitter that it had sent helicopters with rescue and medical teams.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works, Molvi Hamidullah Misbah, said the fire was extinguished and that teams were working to clear the tunnel.

“When we went inside the tunnel in the morning, we saw bodies that were not recognisable as they were severely burnt. Women, men and children were among them,” Ajab Gul told Tolo News.

Dr Abdullah Afghan, a local official, said Parwan’s health department had received 14 dead and 24 injured so far.

With reporting from agencies

Updated: December 19, 2022, 11:30 AM