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15 perish in Karachi Shershah blast


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KARACHI:-At least 15 people were killed and 16 others injured on Saturday when a powerful explosion tore through the premises of a private bank in Karachi’s Shershah area.

The building, located near Paracha Chowk, was built on a sewerage drain and the powerful blast caused severe damage to the bank. Most of the customers and employees were either killed or suffered injuries.

According to the initial report of the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS), the explosion was caused by a build-up of gas in the drain. However, the BDS would submit its final report after thoroughly examining the site.

Excavators, with the help of rescue teams, were removing the debris when a second explosion was reported. However, no further damage was caused.

The first explosion was so intense that the concrete covering the drain as well as the debris from the bank spread many feet away. It destroyed a nearby showroom and other shops. Several vehicles were also damaged.

A filling station next to the bank miraculously remained unaffected. If the underground fuel tank of the filing station had caught fire, the disaster could have been worse.

As soon as the explosion was reported, police, Rangers and rescue workers rushed to the scene.

DG South Sharjeel Kharal, SSP City Sarfaraz Nawaz, Counter Terrorism Department In-charge Mazhar Mashwani and BDS South Zone In-charge Inspector Mustafa Arain also reached there.

Rescue teams, after hectic efforts amid the smoke and heavy rubble, managed to pull out the bodies and the injured from below the debris and shifted them to the Civil Hospital. An emergency was declared at the medical facility and its doctors and paramedical staff put on high alert.

Among the victims was Dilawar Khan, the father of PTI MNA Alamgir Khan, confirmed the party’s Karachi president Khurram Sher Zaman. He was in the showroom at the time. Other victims have been identified as Marabat Khan, Dildar, Zeeshan, Mohammad Younas, Inamullah Shah, Saifullah, Zahid Hussain, Mohammad Junaid Zehri, Naseerullah, Sooba Khan, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Islam, Mohammad Shafiq and Altaf.

The BDS in-charge told The Express Tribune that there was no evidence of terrorism in the explosion. He added that the blast occurred because of a build-up of gas in the drain.

Police also said their initial investigation had shown no signs of terrorist activity.

The bank was located in a 40-year-old building. Despite the top court’s order to remove buildings constructed on drains, there was no action taken to demolish the structure.

SITE Assistant Commissioner Mukhtar Abro said notices were issued to evict the building but the tragedy occurred before they could reach their deadline.

Sindh Minister for Information and Labour Saeed Ghani and Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon also reached the site of the blast and reviewed the ongoing rescue operation.

Prime Minister Imran Khan offered condolences to the families of the victims. “I am especially saddened to hear of the loss of our MNA Alamgir Khan’s father who also perished in the blast,” wrote the premier on his official Twitter handle.

President Arif Alvi visited the house of MNA Alamgir Khan later in the evening and offered condolences on the demise of his father in the incident. He prayed for the departed soul and for patience of the bereaved family.

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry also expressed his deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives, including that of the father of the PTI MNA, in the blast.

In a statement, the minister said he prayed to the Almighty to give eternal peace to the departed souls and grant courage to the bereaved families to bear the loss with fortitude.

A spokesperson for the bank said in a statement that the blast ripped through the building and confirmed injuries and casualties.

“Our sympathies are with the bereaved families. Currently, the focus of the bank is to work closely with the authorities in facilitating all rescue and relief efforts and provide support to the families of the affected,” the spokesperson added.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took notice of the incident and ordered the Karachi commissioner for a detailed inquiry. Expressing grief on the loss of lives in the explosion, Murad instructed the provincial chief secretary to ensure the provision of quality medical care to all the injured.

“Police should also be included in the inquiry so that every aspect can be covered,” said the provincial chief executive.

He also ordered the officials to reach the hospital and provide all possible assistance to the victims.

In a statement, the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) said it had no pipelines at the site of the blast.It added that its pipelines in the area remained unaffected by the blast.

“The BDS in its clearance certificate has confirmed that the explosion occurred because of the sewerage drain which was passing directly under the building,” the statement read.

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