KARACHI: At least 40 people including women and children were killed and 135 others sustained injuries after a powerful blast ripped through a densely populated area near Abbas Town, Health Department Sindh said Sunday.
"More than 40 people are feared dead and above 135 injured", Health Secretary Sindh said while talking to media here.
According to sources, the perpetrators used a remote-detonated improvised explosive device (IED) planted at the entrance of Abbas Town to bomb their targets.
Another low intensity blast was also reported to have followed the main one, which the sources said could have been a CNG cylinder explosion.
"There were two blasts but it was not clear whether the second was also a bomb", IG of Police SIndh Fayaz Lughari told a foreign news agency.
Fire broke out in some of the apartment buildings after the blast, which the fire brigade was trying to bring under control with the help of tenders and a snorkel.
"Thick black smoke is billowing from the site of the blast. The whole area reeks of detonated explosives", said sources right after the blast.
In the beginning the police said the IED was planted in a motorcycle, however the devastation the blast unleashed did not add up with the cops bike-bomb theory, which bomb disposal squad proved wrong later.
"At least 130 kilograms of explosives were used in the blast, which you cannot hide inside a bike. Our findings suggest a four-wheeler was used as the carrier of the bomb evident from parts of a car engine found from the site", sources quoted the bomb experts as saying.
The local residents did not wait for the government officials or the rescue services and started pulling people out of the rubble and rushing them to the hospitals on their own. They complained that no government team or machinery showed up after the blast.
In the wake of the blast security personnel did arrive at the spot but backed off soon after.
"Lawmen including Rangers are nowhere near the site of tragedy. They are shy of facing the bereaved and the catastrophe which befell them. We can see them deployed at a distance", they said.
According to DSP Sachal Qamar Ahmed, the explosive device was planted inside a motorcycle, which the perpetrators parked in populous residential/commercial area.
"There are many teashops and eateries in the area so we fear the casualties might rise", said police. Police added that the target of the bombing were the worshipers coming out of a nearby mosque.
The blast left two apartment buildings, dozens of shops, and a couple of nearby bank branches in ruins, sources said.
"So powerful was the explosion that the facades of several apartments facing the site of blast were blown off the buildings. Windowpanes of most of the surrounding buildings turned into smithereens. Even some doors came off the hinges", they added.
Moreover the natural gas leaking profusely from broken the plumbing is also posing a serious threat as people have been warned not to strike matches or smoke in the area, sources warned further. Later the gas company announced it had disconnected the supply to the area.
The injured were shifted to different hospitals of the city.
Sources in Patel Hospital confirmed seven fatalities along with seven cases of critical injuries.
On the other hand Abbasi Shaheed Hospital authorities say they have received seven dead bodies and ten injured.
At least 20 dead bodies and seven injured including three children and a married couple were in Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre emergency room, said Dr Simi, In-charge Emergency JPMC.
Also, three dead bodies reached Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) where at least 70 injured of the blast were also under treatment , the sources told Geo News.
Liaquat National Hospital authorities also confirmed receiving two dead bodies.
Sindh Chief Minister, Qaim Ali Shah condemning the incident in strongest terms announced Rs1.5 million for each bereaved family and Rs1 million per injured.
Meanwhile the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has announced a day of mourning, while the Jafria Alliance has announced a strike on Monday.
Moreover, Majlis e Wahdat Muslimeen, Tahaffuz-e-Azadari Council,Shia Ulema Council, and Quetta Yekjehti Council have also announced three days of mourning.
According to a statement issued by Private School Association, all the associated private educational institutes will remain closed on Monday.
The All Pakistan Tajir Ittehad has also declared Monday as a shutter-down day, which means no business would be conducted in any market of the metropolis.
The Goods Transport Association has also declared that truckers will not hit the roads on Monday.