A powerful gas explosion in a sewage system in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi has killed at least 12 people and injured several others.
Senior police officer Sarafar Nawaz Shaikh later said two of the injured died at the hospital raising the death toll to 12.
Police spokesman Sohail Jokhio said the explosion was likely caused by accumulated gas in the sewer beneath a bank building in the city’s Shershah neighbourhood.
Windows were shattered in nearby buildings, while the impact of the blast damaged several cars parked nearby and threw debris onto a gas station on the other side of the building.
Jokhio said it was not yet clear what ignited the gas, but a team of explosives experts had been summoned to investigate.
“Investigation is going on to ascertain the cause of the blast & necessary treatment is being provided to the injured,” Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab said in a Twitter post.
One witness, Mohammad Sameer, said he was in the crowded bank branch moments before the blast but left shortly before the explosion.
He said he rushed back to the damaged bank to rescue victims. “Thank God I left the venue otherwise I would also been among the affected ones,” he said.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan took to social media to offer his condolences and “heartfelt prayers” to the victims of the family.
My heartfelt prayers & condolences go to all the families of victims of the twin blasts at Sher Shah Paracha Chowk, Karachi. I am especially saddened to hear of the loss of our MNA Alamgir Khan’s father who also perished in the blast. May Allah give him strength to bear this loss
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) December 18, 2021
Many sewage channels in Karachi have been covered, mostly illegally, by constructing concrete structures over them.
Mukhtar Abro, a local administrator, said illegal construction over the sewage area of the explosion was under notice to vacate and the structures were to be demolished.
Karachi, which is responsible for 60 percent of Pakistan’s economic output, has long endured creaky infrastructure, unregulated construction and failing municipal services.