Pakistan: Toxic gas leak kills six, hundreds hospitalised in Karachi

Six people were killed and over 100 affected after toxic gas leaked in Karachi’s on Sunday night.

Federal Maritime Minister Ali Zaidi confirmed six deaths. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has taken notice of the incident and ordered the free medical treatment to everyone affected.

The patients were taken to Ziauddin Hospital, Kutiyana Memon, Jinnah, and Civil. The vice-chairman of the union council in Keamari had said the nearby smaller hospital didn’t have the capacity to treat all those affected.

About 100 patients were brought to Ziauddin Hospital Sunday night and most were given first aid and discharged. Everyone admitted had difficulty breathing and stomach pain and were given oxygen immediately, the hospital officials said.

There were four casualties at Ziauddin and four other people were admitted to the ICU because of severe breathing difficulties. One of them has been put on the ventilator.

Sindh Health Secretary Zahid Ali Abbasi toured Ziauddin Hospital on Monday morning.

A total of 125 patients have been brought to Ziauddin Hospital Keamari since Sunday night. On Monday, 11 new patients were brought in, including three children between the ages of three and 10. There are currently 10 people being treated at the hospital, of which five are in the ICU.

Civil Hospital received seven patients and all are stable and have been discharged, according to hospital representative Khadim Rizvi.

The patients brought to Civil Hospital were one 16-year-old boy, one 17-year-old girl, a 40-year-old woman, a 16-year-old girl, two 18-year-old men and a 22-year-old man.

The deputy commissioner has been told to clear the area of gas but residents are still being advised to wear masks. The health department has sent teams to the area to tell people to wear masks and keep their doors and windows closed.

The authorities are still investigating what the gas was.

Despite earlier saying a ship full of chemicals had anchored at the port, Zaidi later denied any leaks from ships.

The Karachi Port Trust Chairperson Rear Admiral (retd) Jamil Akhtar denied that poisonous gas was released into the air from ships docked at the port.

Ships are still docking and leaving the port, he said while addressing a press conference, adding that no ship arrived at the port that could have released this gas.

He clarified that media reports suggested that the gas leak was caused by a ship called NV-Hercules. “Let me tell you that the ship was carrying soya bean and it came from the US. If you don’t trust the laws in Pakistan, then be assured that the ship met the requirements set by the US.”

If there was any gas or chemical leakage at the port, then the affectees would be the people working there and we are here in front of you, he added. “People don’t know about cargo handling because of which such rumours are being spread.”

The Pakistan Navy is investigating the matter, he said, adding that it has collected samples from the port. A biological and chemical damage control team from the navy is also looking into the situation.

We will know more after the patients’ blood tests reports come back, he said.

The most affected area, he said, was Keamari Railway Colony, where the first two deaths were reported. There are multiple oil refineries in the area.