An apparent gas leak has killed at least 14 people near the port city of Karachi, officials said yesterday, as investigators worked to determine the source of the deadly emission.
Residents of Kemari, a commercial and residential area, began falling sick on Sunday, officials said.
A doctor at one hospital, who asked not to be named, said that 250 people had been admitted for treatment, after complaining of breathing difficulties and a burning sensation in their eyes.
Local health ministry spokesman Zafar Mehdi told AFP that 14 people had died at various hospitals.
At the state-run Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, about 35 people arrived for emergency treatment.
“Most of the patients were suffering from choking and breathlessness,” Seemin Jamali, who heads the emergency department, told AFP.
Authorities initially suspected some sort of gas could have leaked from the port, but the Karachi Port Trust denied that was the case.
“All the casualties took place outside the port, and our facility is clean,” a port spokesman said.
The authorities have sought help from the navy’s chemical and biological department, according to Sindh Information Minister Nasir Shah.
Initial reports suggest that the gas could be hydrogen sulphide, a highly poisonous gas that is a byproduct of crude oil that is also generated in the sewerage system.
“Hydrogen sulphide could be the probable cause of gas poisoning in the Kemari area adjacent to Karachi port, where some have unfortunately died and dozens were hospitalised on Sunday night,” Sindh Adviser on Environment Murtaza Wahab said. “So far, our investigation is inconclusive, but our teams are working on it and we have also sought professional assistance from a private firm to help in the investigation.”
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