A combo image shows heavy damage after the explosion in Karachi.
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
At least 14 people including father of the ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Alamgir Khan lost their lives while 13 others sustained injuries in the gas explosion ripped through the building of a private bank situated on a nullah (drain) in Shershah Paracha Chowk in Karachi, police said on Saturday.
Since those injured are in critical conditions, it is feared that the death toll may rise.
PTI Karachi President Khurram Sher Zaman confirmed that the father of Alamgir Khan was among those killed in the incident.
Alamgir Khan (R) with his father. File
Member Provincial Assembly Raja Azhar said that Khan’s father had a showroom in the Shershah Market.
Police officer Zafar Ali Shah said the explosion took place in a drain located underneath a private bank, which had been served a notice to vacate the premises so the it could be cleaned up.
The bank’s building and a nearby petrol pump were damaged in the explosion, Shah said, adding that it was suspected that the accumulation of gases in the drain underneath the building caused the blast.
A police spokesperson later said that a bomb disposal squad was called to examine the site of the explosion, adding that the cause can be determined with certainty once the squad submits its report.
Officials reached the site of the explosion and cordoned off the area, Sindh Rangers said in a statement.
The powerful blast destroyed the HBL bank building. Video footage aired by local television stations showed the entire structure of the Shershah branch was damaged. The floor was blown out and furniture was mired in sewage from below. The impact of the blast damaged several cars parked nearby and threw debris onto a gas station on the other side of the building.
People could be seen trying to remove the rubble. There were reports of people being trapped under the debris.
Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Hospital Trauma Centre chief Dr Sabir Memon shared that the health facility has received 11 bodies while 12 injured are being treated, all of them in critical condition.
However, a police spokesperson said that the explosion took place in the gas pipeline, damaging the building of a private bank and several cars parked there.
Personnel of rescue services and law enforcement agencies reached the spot, police said, adding that the injured have been shifted to Karachi’s Trauma Centre.
Most of the people brought in to the hospital have injuries in the upper halves of their bodies, hospital officials said.
The area has been cordoned off by Rangers and police personnel while the rescue operation was underway.
Eyewitnesses on the spot said that there were many people who were buried underneath the debris of the building. Heavy machinery was called to remove the debris and rescue any persons trapped there.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah directed the Karachi Commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the incident and submit a report, a spokesperson said.
Police officers should be included in the inquiry so that all aspects can be investigated, the chief minister said, expressing deep sorrow over the loss of life in the blast.
Rescue people carry the body of a victim after a gas explosion in Karachi. AP
The chief minister also directed the health secretary to provide necessary facilities to the affected persons who are admitted to the Civil Hospital. He also ordered the administration to reach the locality and hospitals for providing maximum assistance to the affectees.
Officials stated in its report that the accumulated gas in the sewerage line beneath the two-storey building caused a powerful explosion. The two-storey building was reportedly constructed on a sewerage line that caved in after a powerful explosion.A witness Mohammad Sameer said he was in the crowded bank branch moments before the blast but left shortly before the explosion. He said he rushed back to the damaged bank to rescue victims.
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