Kabul, Dec 18 (EFE).- At least nine people lost their lives and 30 suffered injuries after an oil tanker caught fire inside a tunnel on a strategic highway connecting northern Afghanistan with the south, officials said on Sunday.
The incident took place inside the Salang tunnel in the eastern Parwan province on Saturday night, public works ministry spokesperson Hamidullah Misbah told EFE.
“Unfortunately, nine people died, and another 30 were injured,” the spokesperson said.
He said the casualty figure was still preliminary and feared “the number of victims may increase.”
Misbah said the fire was partly brought under control.
“Despite the hard work of the workers, the fire continues,” he said.
The Salang Tunnel, built in 1965 by the Soviets, is almost 2.7 km long through the Hindu Kush mountains between the Parwan and Baghlan provinces. It is about 100 km from Kabul.
The strategic pass is the only all-weather road link between northern Afghanistan, the capital, and the southern parts.
The tunnel has witnessed several accidents due to the accumulation of gases or snow avalanches.
The Salang tunnel was dynamited in 1997 by the Northern Alliance to cut Afghanistan in two and hinder the advance of the Taliban militia.
The destruction of the ventilation systems and the planting of mines and explosives inside the tunnel turned it into a graveyard for its travelers.
The governments before the return of the Taliban spent millions of dollars on the renovation of the tunnel.
In 2010, more than 160 people were buried and another 100 were injured after a series of snow avalanches blocked the tunnel and damaged dozens of vehicles. EFE