Four people were killed and three injured when a chemical-laden tanker caught fire following an accident and exploded on Pune-Mumbai Expressway near Khandala exit on Tuesday, police officials said.
According to the state highway police, the accident took place on the expressway stretch between Lonavla and Khandala as tanker was heading towards Pune. The tanker caught fire following an accident and exploded causing fiery balls of the chemical to fall on the motorists travelling on the road below.
Four motorists on the road below sustained injuries, of which three died and one person was severely injured. The driver of the tanker was killed and two others in the vehicle were injured.
Deputy superintendent of police Lonavla sub-division, Satya Sai Karthik said, “Four people have been killed while three are severely injured. We have pressed all emergencies at the site to get situation under control. Vehicle movement has also been paused.”
According to officials, a total of four vehicles were gutted, including the tanker. Due to the fire, traffic coming towards Pune was disrupted for some time. The affected section of the expressway was temporarily closed to facilitate emergency response operations and initiate investigative procedures. After an hour, movement of vehicles was allowed on the stretch.
Highway traffic police (HSP) Pune incharge Lata Phad said, “Major fire engulfed in a tanker carrying chemical in which truck driver was killed and cleaner was injured. Another woman passing under bridge was also injured.”
Local fire brigade officials were promptly notified of the incident and a swift response was initiated. Firefighters and medical personnel rushed to the scene to extinguish the flames and provide immediate medical assistance to those affected.
Efforts were made to rescue the individuals who sustained severe injuries and they have been shifted to Pavana hospital in Somatane Phata for further medical treatment.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed grief over the deaths. Fadnavis, who also holds the home portfolio, called the accident “unfortunate”. “Three other persons were injured in the accident and are being treated in a local hospital. I pray for their betterment,” he said on social media.
The Mumbai-Pune Expressway, a critical transportation artery connecting two major cities, plays a vital role in facilitating commerce and commuting for thousands of individuals daily. This incident raises concerns about the safety standards and protocols in place to ensure the secure transit of hazardous materials.