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February 17, 2020

Spread of 'poisonous gas': Four die, over 50 hospitalised in Karachi port area

Top Story

February 17, 2020

.KARACHI: Panic and fear gripped the Keamari area here on Sunday night after at least four people, including two women, lost their lives while over 50 others were affected when some poisonous gas mysteriously spread in the locality famous for its seaport.

The cause of the incident is yet to be known. However, there were unconfirmed reports that some chemical had leaked from a recent shipment at the Keamari dockyard.

The people who faced breathing problems due to the gas were shifted to different hospitals, including Ziauddin Hospital and Civil Hospital.

As a large number of patients started approaching the hospitals, the authorities declared emergency in all the major hospitals across the city.

Announcements were made through mosques in Keamari to advise people to remain indoors and close the windowpanes and doors of their houses. The residents were also told to use masks.

Panic spread in the locality after rumours spread that some poisonous gas had leaked from a ship that had arrived from China at the seaport.

Heavy contingents of law enforcers, including police, reached the Keamari area to inquire about the incident. Police also visited the patients brought to the hospitals to record their statements in order to ascertain the actual cause behind the incident.

The residents and the victims claimed that intense poisonous gas had leaked from one of the ships at the seaport in which some chemicals had been stored to preserve vegetables. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) denied such rumours, saying that no such ship had arrived at the port.

The Edhi Foundation head Faisal Edhi also visited a hospital to enquire after the victims of the poisonous gas. “So far four people have lost their lives while some 60 to 70 are under treatment,” Faisal Edhi said while talking to the media outside the Ziauddin Hospital in Keamari. He asked the KPT administration to explain the facts and disclose which kind of gas had leaked.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah also took notice of the incident and sought a detailed report from the Karachi commissioner. He also issued directives for providing treatment to the victims.

Police and rescuers confirmed that four people had lost their lives. The deceased were identified as 60-year-old Maymar Begum, Rizwan and Ahsan while the fourth victim is yet to be identified.

According to Jackson SHO Malik Adil, the victims being brought to hospitals were facing breathing problems and complaining about suffocation. He said the police were investigating which kind of gas had leaked.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader and Federal Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi through Twitter expressed sorrow over the deaths.

“I have directed the KPT to investigate and establish facts. Meanwhile, the KPT has also been directed to treat the patients at the KPT hospital in Keamari. Rest assured, details of the sad incident will be shared in due course and those responsible will be dealt with severely,” he tweeted.

Sindh Inspector General of Police Dr Syed Kaleem Imam also took notice of the gas leak and ordered police officials concerned to take extra measures in rescue work and provide assistance to the victims.