Saturday, December 18, 2021
KARACHI: At least 16 people were killed and more than a dozen others injured on Saturday in a blast that took place at Paracha Chowk in the city's Shershah neigbourhood.
PTI MNA Alamgir Khan's father is among those to have died in the explosion, PTI-Karachi President MPA Khurram Sher Zaman confirmed, as fears of increasing casualties remain with the search and rescue operation underway.
Earlier, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Accident Emergency and Trauma Centre head Dr Sabir Memon confirmed that the hospital had received 14 bodies.
Meanwhile, DIG South Sharjeel Kharal said 10 injured people have been discharged after necessary medical treatment, while six remain under observation, including two who are are on the ventilator.
Footage from a CCTV camera installed opposite the area where the blast took place, showed a crowd of people gathered who fell after the explosion.
A spokesperson for the Karachi Police, quoting the bomb disposal unit's report, said the blast took place in a gas pipeline running through a nullah located in the area, causing immense damage to the building of a private bank that was constructed atop it.
The spokesperson noted that so far, there was no lead suggesting that the blast might be linked to terrorism.
Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), in a statement, said that its team had confirmed that there was "no SSGC gas pipeline" in the area. "The gas pipelines installed in the area are safe and they have not incurred any damage."
Referring to the BDU's report, the SSGC said that it had declared a blast in the sewerage line as the reason for the explosion.
"It is important to note that neither were flames visible nor was there any smell of natural gas in the area — which is a clear indication that the blast is not linked to any of SSGC's pipelines," it added.
Taking notice of the incident, Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote on Twitter: "My heartfelt prayers [and] condolences go to all the families of victims of the twin blasts at Sher Shah Paracha Chowk, Karachi."
Expressing grief over Alamgir's loss, he said: "I am especially saddened to hear of the loss of our MNA Alamgir Khan’s father who also perished in the blast. May Allah give him the strength to bear this loss."
DIG South Kharal said police have obtained CCTV footage of nearby places — the bank and an office.
The police official said that a forensics team also obtained samples from the debris, and that the overall scope of the investigation had been extended.
"A clearer picture of what happened will be before us by tonight," he added.
Eyewitnesses on the spot claimed that many people were buried underneath the debris of the building.
An eyewitness, speaking to Geo News, said that since it is a Saturday, only nine employees of the bank were reporting for duty.
He said the bank was about to shift to a new place but it was "our bad luck" that the blast took place before the branch could be shifted to the new location.
The eyewitness said that there were a few bank customers who were buried beneath the debris as well.
Another eyewitness spoke to Geo News and said that he was having petrol filled in his motorcycle when the blast took place.
He said he saw a few people fall into the nullah underneath the building when the blast took place.
During the rescue and search operation, a second blast took place when a few electric wires, which were being taken down, collided with a gas line.
No loss of life was reported in the second blast.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed the commissioner Karachi to conduct an inquiry into the incident and submit a report over its findings, a spokesperson of the chief minister said.
“Police officers should be included in the inquiry so that all aspects [of the blast] can be investigated, " the chief minister said, expressing deep sorrow over the loss of lives in the blast.
CM Shah issued instructions to the secretary of health to provide necessary facilities to the injured at the Civil Hospital immediately.