Two people lost their lives and four others were injured when a powerful explosion occurred at a fuel station in the North Karachi area on Sunday afternoon.
The deceased included the station owner and an employee. The incident was termed an accident by experts of the bomb disposal squad (BDS) who ruled out the possibility of terrorism or criminal act.
The tragic mishap occurred at around 1:30 pm at the Madina CNG Station located near Power House Chowrangi in North Karachi. Panic swept over the locality as the explosion was heard and scores of people gathered at the site and initiated the rescue work.
Later, a heavy contingent of law enforcers, including police and the Rangers, reached the CNG station and cordoned off the site after dispersing the crowd.
Ambulances of various welfare organisations also reached the site to take the injured to hospitals. According to rescue workers, one man had died on the spot while five others, including the owner, were shifted to various hospitals. Later, the owner succumbed to his injuries during treatment.
“A total of two people – the owner, Rashid Anwar, 45, and an employee, Saqib Moin, 25 – lost their lives and four employees were injured in the tragedy,” explained Khawaja Ajmair Nagri DSP Altaf Hussain while talking to The News. “Though a number of other people were also present at the filling station but none of the outsiders were hurt in the explosion.”
As the law enforcers initially entertained the suspicion that the explosion was an act of terrorism, experts of the BDS were called to ascertain the actual cause of the explosion. In their initial findings, they ruled out the possibility of a terrorist act in the explosion. The squad, however, had not prepared its final report till this news story was filed.
Experts from the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) were also called at the site, who immediately suspended the CNG supply to the station.The police, in their initial report, could not solve all the mystery behind the explosion. “We did not find single evidence that could suggest that it was a cylinder or a compressor blast,” DSP Hussain explained. “The explosion occurred at a storeroom-cum-cashier room connected with the manager’s room apparently because of intensive gas leakage as there was no ventilation system.”
However, even if gas leakage is accepted as the reason for the explosion, it remains unanswered how the gas had leaked and accumulated in the room. The DSP said the blast also badly affected the manager’s room, breaking its wall and windowpanes. He added that the high-intensity explosion also shattered windowpanes of the service station and made cracks on the walls.
Quoting the initial investigations, the officer said the blast occurred as the accumulated gas in the room caught fire possibly due to the owner’s smoking. “The deceased and the injured had severe burn injuries.”
A fire tender was also dispatched to the fuel station but before it arrived, the fire had already been extinguished with the help of the fire extinguishing apparatus available at the station.
The injured were identified as Jagdesh, 30, Mohib Dilshad, 20, Hamza, 18, and Faqir Zaman, 42, who were initially rushed to Abbassi Shaheed Hospital and later moved to the burns ward at Civil Hospital, Karachi, were Hamza and Dilshad were said to be in critical condition.
The deceased employee, Moin, was a resident of Paposh Nagar in Nazimabad. He had a minor daughter and was working at the station since the last two years as CNG operator. He was inside the manager’s room when the fire erupted after a loud explosion.
According to police officials, the compressor room was located next to the manager’s room but it remained safe from the explosion and the fire. The officials said it would have been a bigger tragedy had the fire spread to the compressor room.
“Apparently there is no need for the registration of an FIR as it was an accident but a case would be registered if any criminal act was found during investigations,” said DSP Hussain.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah also took notice of the incident and sought a report from the commissioner Karachi. The CM also asked when the fuel station was inspected the last time. Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sindh Dr Syed Kaleem Imam also sought a detailed report from District Central SSP Arif Aslam Rao on the incident.