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Web Desk
February 18, 2020

Karachi gas leak: Death toll surges to 14, over 300 affected


Web Desk
Tue, Feb 18, 2020

The spokesperson noted that the 300 people who fell sick due to the suspected gas leak included women and children as well. The deceased people's families, on the other hand, did not permit for a post-mortem to be carried out either, the official added.

While the spokesperson said the lethal chemical had not been identified yet, The News had earlier today reported that authorities suspected it was hydrogen sulphide — a highly poisonous gas that is a byproduct of crude oil and also generated in sewerage system.

Over 100 people were moved to Karachi's public and private hospitals just last night over the concerning health disaster.

Breathing problems, burning feeling in eyes

Most people affected by the lethal gas were brought to Ziauddin Hospital and Karachi Port Trust (KPT) Hospital over the past 24 hours. Some others were shifted to Dr. Ruth K. M. Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Kutiyana Memon Hospital, and Burhani Hospital.

Doctors explained that patients had complained of breathing problems, respiratory issues, stomach ache, burning sensation in eyes, and a tightness in the chest.

Separately, police surgeon Dr Qarar Abbasi told Geo News that the post-mortem of two deceased people — one identified and another unnamed one — had been completed at Civil Hospital Karachi.

Chemical examiner's report due tomorrow

A medical report of at least 14 people affected by the suspected gas leak was registered while samples were also obtained from them. Further, the police surgeon's office has submitted 16 samples to the chemical examiner.

The chemical examiner's report was expected to be released tomorrow (Wednesday).

On the other hand, the Civil Hospital's medico-legal officer has obtained samples from at least three people who were admitted to a private hospital in Keamari. Samples from the two deceased people — whose post-mortem was carried out earlier — were also obtained for chemical examination.

Panic grips port area

Residents of the area surrounding Karachi Port, including Keamari, protested against the rising death toll from the suspected toxic gas leakage, as well as the growing number of people affected by the health disaster.

The demonstrators — including traders and the neighbourhood's business community — blocked various roads and held a sit-in on key routes near Jackson Market and nearby areas, bringing traffic to a standstill. Traffic police said vehicles were being rerouted to alternative streets.

Traders Association Vice Chairperson Muhammad Asif Khan said there had been no satisfactory efforts to ascertain the cause of and prevent further deaths from the alleged gas leak despite the incident being reported first some 48 hours ago.

One resident said people in Bhutta Village, near Shirin Jinnah Colony, felt heightened fear and panic prevailed among the dwellers.

People were seen wearing face masks, parents were not sending their children to the schools that remained open, and shop-owners were forced to close down their businesses and protest, while many others had decided to move their families away from the area.

Administrators of most public and private schools had announced that educational institutes — including those in Keamari, Machar Colony, City Railway Colony, Clifton, Tower area, and other coastal localities near the Karachi Port — would remain closed to avoid any unwanted incidents and keep children safe.