KARACHI - Fifteen people died while over a dozen others sustained injuries after an explosion apparently caused by gas leakage ripped through a two-storey building in Karachi’s Shershah neighbourhood on Saturday.
The father and a relative of PTI MNA Alamgir Khan were also among the dead, police and rescuers said.
The incident occurred at Paracha Chowk in Shershah, within the remits of Keamari Town, with police and Bomb Disposal Squad initially terming it a gas blast in a choked sewerage line, where the building was constructed against the law.
The BDS report said the blast happened due to gas filling up in the drainage system underneath the building. The entire building was built illegally on top of the drainage system which had several shops and a bank.
“Eleven bodies have been identified while two injured people are said to be in a critical condition,” provincial health minister Azra Fazl Pechuhu told reporters. She confirmed the death toll at 15. The bodies and injured were rushed to the Trauma Centre in Civil Hospital Karachi.
“One of the injured is on a ventilator while the other is being treated at the ICU,” she said.
The building where the incident occurred housed commercial establishments including a showroom and a bank and multiple offices.
As many as 10 employees of a private bank were also affected in the incident with bank authorities claiming that they hired the building fulfilling all legal requirements regarding a rented place. “No woman employee has been injured in the incident,” a spokesman for the bank said.
A KMC official while detailing the blast said that it was a gas explosion inside the sewerage line where the building was built illegally.
“Site Association is responsible for cleaning this nullah, which runs upto Lyari Nullah and is being used to dump chemical waste from multiple factories in the area,” he said adding that other illegal buildings have also been built on the Shershah nullah that could lead to a disaster anytime.
Information Minister Saeed Ghani also visited the incident site and said that it happened owing to the illegal encroachment on the nullah. “Thousands of encroachments have been built on nullahs in Karachi and government has made multiple attempts to resolve the issue however, political parties and business communities have made hindrances in addressing the issue,” he said.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took notice of the Shershah blast and ordered Commissioner Karachi to hold an inquiry. He expressed deep sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the incident.
He directed the commissioner to include a senior police officer to hold the investigation into all aspects.
Later, a special committee to be led by Superintendent of Police (SP) Investigation Keamari was formed to probe the blast in the Shershah neighbourhood.
The police while announcing the committee headed by SP Investigations said that it would analyse all angles regarding the blast and are trying to recover CCTV footage from the nearby areas to understand the circumstances that lead to the incident.
MNA Alamgir Khan’s father dies
MNA Alamgir Khan’s father Dilawar Khan, a relative and employees at the showroom also died in the incident.
Governor Sindh Imran Ismail, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar and other leaders of the party also arrived at the home of the PTI MNA to condole over the loss while the PTI Karachi leadership has postponed its scheduled protest against the PPP government in front of the Sindh Assembly against Local Bodies bill.
The family members revealed that Dilawar Khan was sitting at the showroom when the incident occurred.
Prime Minister Imran Khan also condoled over the death of Alamgir Khan’s father and said that his heartfelt prayers and condolences go to all the families of victims of the twin blasts at Shershah Paracha Chowk, Karachi.
“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 strength to bear this loss,” he said while consoling the MNA who was elected from the seat vacated by the premier himself after general elections.