Pakistan’s Karachi Blast Death Toll Climbs to 17, No Leads to Indicate Terrorism, Say Police

The death toll in the powerful blast that ripped through a building of a private bank in Pakistan’s financial capital of Karachi has gone up to 17 after another injured person died at a hospital on Sunday. The blast took place in a gas pipeline running through a sewage drain on Saturday, killing at least 16 people and wounding 15 others while causing immense damage to the building constructed atop the drain, a spokesperson for the Karachi Police said.

The spokesperson said that there was no lead suggesting that the blast might be linked to terrorism. Another victim of Karachi’s Shershah blast succumbed to his injuries at a hospital Sunday morning, pushing the death toll from the explosion to 17, Geo News reported.

The dead also included the father of Alamgir Khan, a member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. Expressing grief over the loss of lives, Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a tweet: “My heartfelt prayers [and] 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 the strength to bear this loss.”

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has directed the commissioner Karachi to conduct an inquiry into the incident and submit a report over its findings, a spokesperson of the chief minister said.

Police officers should be included in the inquiry so that all aspects [of the blast] can be investigated, ” the chief minister said. The explosion occurred a day before Pakistan was hosting the 17th extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign minister in Islamabad to tackle the situation in Afghanistan.

The police believe that the blast occurred inside the sewerage line in Shershah due to the accumulation of gas. A case has been registered in connection with the blast on the behalf of the state through a police inspector.

According to the Dawn newspaper, the blast in a Shershah building emerged as a grim reminder of unchecked encroachment on government and municipal facilities for commercial purposes, unplanned expansion of concrete structures in Karachi and illegal use of government land and facilities continuing unabated for the past many years.

Investigators, rescue operators and municipal authorities strongly believe that the explosion is caused by the sewer gas accumulated in the sewage drain over which a two-storey structure was raised, it said. The theory is further strengthened as the official inquiries are apparently aimed at finding the cause of the explosion while keeping in view the illegalities involved in the incident, it added.

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