AN oil tanker overturned and caught fire in a tunnel killing at least 19 people, including children, and injuring dozens.
Horror images show the burnt out remains of vehicles in the Salang tunnel in Afghanistan and smoke billowing out of the entrance.
“An oil tanker overturned and caught fire in the Salang tunnel, which then set several other vehicles on fire,” said spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works, adding the death toll was expected to rise.
Abdullah Afghan Mal, a senior health official in Parwan, said many of the dead included women and children who were badly burned.
“Among the dead it was very hard to identify who was a male and who was a female,” he said.
A spokesman for Parwan province, Said Himatullah Shamim, said survivors remain trapped under rubble.
There are five women and two children among the dead, he said, and the rest are men who are severely burnt and cannot be recognised.
It was not immediately clear what caused the incident, which happened at around 8.30 p.m.
The pass was now closed for traffic as rescue teams in helicopters deployed at the site, officials said.
The Salang pass, one of the highest mountain highways in the world at around 12,000 feet and 1.6 mile tunnel.
The pass runs through the Hindu Kush mountain range that connects capital Kabul to the north.
Hailed as an engineering feat upon completion, the Salang pass is often shut for days because of accidents, heavy snowfalls and avalanches during the winter.
In 2010, avalanches killed more than 150 people in the Salang pass.