At least 14 people were killed and 12 others injured on Saturday in Karachi, the financial capital of Pakistan, when a powerful explosion, apparently triggered by a gas explosion in a covered sewer canal, ravaged a bank building that was there, police said.
Most of the victims are believed to be customers and staff inside the HBL bank which was built on top of a covered sewer canal in the Shershah area of Karachi and collapsed as a result of the explosion, the Express Tribune reported.
An adjacent gas station was also damaged as a result of the explosion.
Karachi administrator Murtaza Wahab said an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the explosion.
The Express Tribune said at least 14 people, including Alamgir Khan’s father, a member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, were killed in the blast.
An initial report from the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) indicated that the explosion was caused by a build-up of gas in the sewer line.
A senior official quoted in the report allegedly said counterterrorism officials were also investigating the blast.
A police spokesperson clarified that there was no lead to suggest the explosion could be linked to terrorism, Geo TV reported.
Meanwhile, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) said there was “no SSGC gas pipeline” in the area, according to the report.
Denying the BDS report, the SSGC said: “It is important to note that there were no visible flames or the smell of natural gas in the area, which clearly indicates that the explosion is not related to any SSGC pipelines.
Police said the bank building was built over a narrow stream with sewers and gas pipes, making it difficult to determine whether the explosion was due to a build-up of gas in the pipe. sewer or if something had happened with the pipeline or if explosive material had been placed in it.
“We have no idea if it was a gas explosion. Our first priority is the rescue operation and then we can determine the cause of the explosion,” said Sharjeel Kharal, deputy inspector general. of the police (DIG) for the South region.
Images of the explosion showed a damaged building and debris on the ground as well as damaged vehicles as rescuers attempted to retrieve the injured.
According to a Geo TV report, eyewitnesses claim that many people are buried under the rubble of the building.
Excavators were called to the site to remove debris and rescue those trapped there.
A bomb disposal unit (BDU) also arrived at the area that was cordoned off, according to the Geo TV report.
According to the eyewitness account, being on a Saturday, only nine employees of the RBL bank showed up for work.
Another eyewitness said he saw a few people fall into the stream, under the building, when the explosion took place.
The Geo TV report said a second explosion occurred during the search and rescue operation when a few electrical wires, which were being pulled out, collided with the gas line, but none loss of life has not been reported.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah ordered a detailed investigation into the incident.
The explosion occurred a day before Pakistan hosted the 17th Extraordinary Meeting of the OIC Foreign Minister in Islamabad to address the situation in Afghanistan.
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