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August 8, 2017

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Explosive-laden truck blows up in Lahore

LAHORE: A man was killed and at least 45 injured when an explosive-laden fruit truck parked on the Outfall Road exploded on Monday night, a couple of days ahead of the arrival of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the provincial metropolis.

The body of a 45-year-old man, Amanat Ali of Kamoke, Gujranwala, was recovered from the debris during the rescue operation.The roof of a nearby building also collapsed. A baby girl, who was trapped under the debris, was recovered by the rescuers. A number of vehicles were damaged in the blast. The windowpanes of nearby buildings were shattered due to the blast wave.

The injured persons were rushed to the nearby Mian Munshi Hospital and Mayo Hospital, where an emergency was declared. Due to a power breakdown following the blast, the hospital authorities faced problems in carrying out emergency operations.

Sources said the blast damaged the 132-KV Sagian grid. At least 12 feeders were affected, resulting in total blackout in the area, according to the Lesco official. He said the Lesco staff would start work on the main lines after security officials would clear the area.

The injured were taken to the Munshi Hospital and Mayo Hospital. Doctors said most of the victims were out of danger as they had received minor injuries. The victims included Jamil (48), son of Nawab, Ali (10), son of Jamil, Pervez (40), son of Rasheed, Zain (19), son of Shakeel, Hifza (16), son of Safdar, Maryam (10), Robina (35), wife of Babar, Sitara (15), daughter of Yousaf, Anam (25), daughter of Khalid, Aleeza (15), daughter of Amir, Adeela (20), daughter of Mubarak, Pervez (45), son of Ali, Sher Ali (40), son of M Sadiq.

DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf confirmed that the explosive-laden fruit truck had exploded on Outfall Road. He added that the police and the CTD were collecting forensic evidence to initiate investigations.

The explosion was so huge that its sound was heard at the radius of two kilometres at around at 8:49pm on Outfall Road, near Sagian Interchange. The parts of the truck, which flew away, and other concrete material, caused injuries to most of the victims. The victims were lying in a pool of blood. A hue and cry was witnessed at the scene as the victims were crying for help. The blast scene was totally covered with smoke and dust.

Soon after the blast, Rescue 1122, Edhi ambulances, local police and fire vehicles reached the scene and started rescue operation. Eyewitnesses and rescuers said the truck was totally destroyed in the blast while the blast created four to five feet deep crater which suggested that the truck was loaded with huge quantity of explosives.

Earlier, police officers and locals believed that it was a transformer blast, but later on it was confirmed as a blast. Locals told reporters that the truck was parked in the area for the last three days. Local police were informed about the suspicious truck, but nobody responded to the call.

The incident created panic in the locality as a large number of people gathered on the scene to know about the nature of the blast. The families and friends of the victims also gathered on the spot to inquire about the safety of their beloved-ones. The personnel of Rangers also reached the scene and cordoned off the area. They started collecting forensic evidence along with the forensic experts and investigators of CTD.

A senior police officer said explosives were hidden in the truck which accidentally triggered, causing damage to scores of vehicles parked in the area. Another eyewitness said the area was used for the parking of trucks on temporary basis. However, the said truck was not removed for the last few days. The PML-N workers believed the truck could have possibly been used during the arrival of Mian Nawaz Sharif in Lahore. They said the blast has exposed the tall claims of Lahore police about combing operations. They added that the police and other law-enforcement agencies have badly failed to control terrorism in the City.

A spokesman for the Punjab government said action would be taken against responsible policemen. No case of the incident was registered till the filing of this report. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has sought report from the IG Police about the incident. He directed that the incident should be thoroughly investigated from every respect and the responsible persons should be arrested as soon as possible. He has directed the administration to provide the best healthcare facilities to the injured.

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