Tuesday Feb 18, 2020
KARACHI: The death toll from the gas leak in the city's Keamari area rose to eight on Monday, according to hospital and police sources.
Those hospitalised had complained of respiratory problems, police officials and doctors said, noting that the real cause of the incident could not be ascertained. Sources said the leakage occurred during the offloading of chemicals from a cargo ship anchored at Keamari Jetty.
The deceased included two women as well.
Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs, Ali Zaidi said a team of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence (NBCD) under Pakistan Navy was engaged in chemical analysis of the unidentified gas.
He said that around 100 patients have been treated so far, with two of them still at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital.
“For the record, approx 100 patients have been treated and released since last night. Two are still in ICU. We continue to monitor the situation,” he said in a Twitter post.
Earlier on Monday, due to the ongoing toxic gas issues, four employees of the Customs House fainted.
Following the incident, the employees were sent home and the building was shut down.
The Karachi Port Trust (KPT), in initial findings, said on Monday that the port authorities have stringent safety checks in place to monitor the handling of chemical material that is off-loaded from cargo ships in Kemari.
"The deaths and injuries from the gas leakage are from the northern area of Kemari, not near the port or its vicinity," the KPT said.
"Attributing the gas leakage to offloading of chemical is not right. The port is doing all it can to help those affected by the gas leakage," the KPT added.
Pakistan Navy has also sent a team to the affected area in this regard, the port authority told the media.
On Sunday night, federal minister Ali Zaidi, also expressed grief over the loss of lives and directed the port authorities to investigate the incident. However, the minister said that the incident did not occur in the port premises.
"I have just requested Pakistan Navy to dispatch their Nuclear Bilological Chemical Damage (NBCD) team to investigate the source of the incident of poisonous gas in Kemari area and take remedial measures,” he said in a series of tweets.
Speaking to the media outside a private hospital, Zaidi said he had directed the hospital administration to provide urgent care to those hospitalised. “Most of those hospitalised are asthma patients,” Zaidi said.
Ziauddin Hospital's Chief Operation Officer, Dr Fahim, told the media the hospital had sent samples from the incident for chemical examination. “Some were affected by the gas, others were already suffering from breathing problems,” he said.
“Those brought to the hospital include men, women and children,” Dr Fahim said, adding three patients were in the intensive care unit (ICU) in critical condition. “Many patients have also complained of stomachache,” he added.