25/06/2017 3:08 PM AEST | Updated 25/06/2017 8:59 PM AEST

More Than 140 Killed When Oil Tanker Burst Into Flames, Pakistan

Victims were collecting fuel from the oil spill before the truck set on fire.

Stringer Pakistan / Reuters
Residents reportedly ignored police attempts to keep locals away from the truck.

At least 140 people have been killed after an oil truck burst into flames on a highway in Bahawalpur, Pakistan.

Local residents were attempting to collect fuel from the overturned truck when flames engulfed more than 100 people in the Punjab province.

Seventy-six are also reported injured and more than 40 people have been taken to two local hospitals in a critical condition.

Despite residents being told of the leaking fuel via a loudspeaker located at a local mosque, according to provincial government spokesman Malik Muhammas Ahmed Khan, "people of the area and passers by had started gathering fuel when the tanker exploded, burning everybody on and around the spot."

Stringer . / Reuters
Dozens have been injured by the blaze.

Police sources told the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) police efforts to redirect traffic were ignored as scores of locals attempted to use jerry cans and pots to collect the fuel.

"People living in roadside villages, carrying domestic pots rushed to the scene to collect oil and they also made phone calls to their relatives living in other villages to immediately come to collect oil," the sources revealed.

Emergency services were investigating if speed was a factor in the original crash after the tanker flipped on a national highway, 100 kilometres southwest of Multan.

However, subsequent reports now suggest a potential burst tyre was the cause of the initial crash. The driver survived and remains in police custody.

Dr Rizwan Naseer, director of Punjab provincial rescue services, said many of the bodies are so badly burnt, they may be unidentifiable. There are fears the death toll could continue to rise.

Initial reports are attributing the explosion to a cigarette that was lit near the incident, allegedly sparking the fire.

It has been reported that several cars, motorcycles and other vehicles were destroyed in the blaze.

Stringer . / Reuters
Various vehicles were burnt out during the inferno.

The tanker was reportedly driving from the southern port city of Karachi to the Punjab provincial capital, Lahore.

The tragedy has occurred on the eve Eid at-Fitr, a Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

The office of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the Punjab provincial government are providing full medical assistance.