LAHORE: At least 45 people were injured in an explosion in a fruit truck stationed in a parking lot on Band Road on Monday night.
The blast occurred at around 8:50pm. Apart from the injuries, dozens of vehicles were damaged and the roof of a building caved in, while the windows of many buildings in a 500-metre radius of the blast had also shattered.
Incidentally, Nawaz Sharif’s cancelled Sunday rally was scheduled to pass through the same road.
Imtiaz Ahmad, who lives across the bridge from where the blast occurred, said he was at home with his family when the incident occurred. “Everything around me started shaking so forcefully that I thought it was an earthquake,” he said.
Right after the blast, high voltage lines on power poles a few metres from the truck fell over and a transformer was also damaged, and Saggian Grid Station tripped, plunging the area into darkness. People who ran towards the blast site initially assumed the transformer had blown up.
Locals at the scene quickly began shifting the injured to a nearby hospital. They also informed rescue workers as a Rescue 1122 station is situated just 300 metres up the road. Ambulances immediately rushed to the site and started rescue efforts. They shifted the victims to Mian Munshi Hospital and Mayo Hospital. A minor girl was also rescued from underneath the debris of the collapsed building.
The Bomb Disposal Squad, Crime Scene Unit, CTD, forensics experts and other police personnel also rushed to the scene.
They cordoned off the area and started collecting crime scene evidence. Rangers joined in the efforts to maintain order.
An eyewitness said he was standing on the bridge when the blast occurred. He saw the vehicles parked in the stand tossing up into air many feet above the ground. This was followed by the screams of victims, many of whom he saw lying on the ground.
Initial investigations suggest that explosives were involved in the blast. Operations Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Dr Haider Ashraf said the explosives may have triggered accidentally, adding that the truck had come from Swat and had been parked there for the last three days. He added that they have started investigations and would arrest the people who brought the truck into the city.
The blast also left a 10-foot crater where the truck was parked. Forensic experts and investigators said that between 80 and 100 kg of explosives were used. An investigator said that most of the injuries were due to shrapnel from the truck and glass from windows.
Although most of the victims were discharged after receiving treatment at hospitals. At least 10 injured persons were still under treatment at Mayo Hospital when this report was filed.
Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the incident and asked for a report.
Last month, 26 people, including nine policemen, were martyred and 58 others were injured in a suicide hit on Ferozepur Road. In April, six people including army personnel were killed in a suicide attack on a census team on Bedian Road. On February 13, over two dozen people including two senior police officers were killed in a suicide blast on Mall Road.