Even after the passage of many hours, the cause of the gas leak in Keamari, a neighbourhood near the Karachi Port, remains a mystery. The yet-unexplained incident started to show its deadly effects from Sunday night. So far eight persons have died after inhaling the toxic gas. Besides, a total of 132 persons have been affected, according to the police. The government has ruled out sabotage. Authorities were alerted when people in Keamari area started rushing to nearby hospitals with severe breathing trouble on Sunday night.
The exact causes of the deaths had not been ascertained because the bodies were not brought to any government hospital, according to the police surgeon. Authorities say they are unsure of the source of the leak or the type of gas. A high-ranking police official told the media that the police were investigating the incident and a team — comprising officials of the Karachi Port Trust, the Pakistan Navy, the West Deputy Commissioner’s office and the health department — was being sent to the area to help ascertain the cause of the mysterious gas leak. A spokesman for the KPT said the Navy’s Biological and Chemical Damage Control Team would also investigate the incident.
Mercifully, the gas leak — which had begun to remind the horrors of the Bhopal gas tragedy of December 1984 — has not spread beyond the Keamari neighbourhood. Unconfirmed reports are circulating as to the source of the leak and the type of gas. One such report says the gas emitted from a container carrying chemicals used to preserve peas. Such reports have been dismissed as mere rumour. Thankfully, the victims have only experienced problems in breathing and irritation in the throat.
Since the mysterious gas leak has affected so many people, it needs to be investigated thoroughly to prevent such tragedies in future. Considering the laid-back attitude of the authorities with regard to the enforcement of the rule of law, the tragedy ought to awaken those at the helm from their comfortable slumber. Celebratory firing has become a normal thing and no one seems to be aware of this. What you allow is what will continue.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2020.
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