An oil terminal caught fire in Karachi’s Keamari area on Thursday, killing at least people and suspending the countrywide supply of petroleum products.
Six others also suffered burn injuries as firefighter rushed to douse the blaze at a private oil company’s oil storage facility at Keamari Terminal-1 and closed the main road used by trucks supplying fuel across the country.
The fire, which broke out at around 12:15pm, had been extinguished by the time this report was filed and oil supply is likely to resume on Friday (today).
Police said the burnt bodies of two people were found at the site.
Shams Shahwani of the Oil Truck Owners Association told The Express Tribune that the two men who had died in the fire were labourers working at the storage facility.
"At least six truck drivers have also suffered burn injuries,” he added. They were admitted to the Civil Hospital’s Burns Centre.
Please find below official statement from our client Shell Pakistan on Kemari Terminal 1 Fire Incident.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Shell Pakistan Limited said a 20-inch diameter import line of the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) passing inside Shell Pakistan’s Terminal-1 in Keamari had caught fire.
“Authorities have been quick to action, fire brigades, emergency rescue staff along with Shell Pakistan team are all present at the site and are extending their support in ensuring the safety of every personnel present at PSO terminal,” the statement read.
It added that the maintenance and safety standards compliant of key oil pipelines were crucial and it was important to realise that compliance was a priority for safety and sustainable infrastructure.
“Pakistan, being an import reliant country, needs to ensure the most stringent of compliance in terms of pipelines for the fuel supply coming into Karachi and Shell Pakistan is willing to support all stakeholders in this regards so that such unfortunate incidents can be avoided."
The Karachi Port Trust, in a statement, said it would take strict action against the “culprits found guilty of such a violation, if any”.
“The KPT chairman [Rear Admiral (retd) Jamil Akhtar] has requested the Karachi commissioner to convene an inquiry to establish the root cause behind the incident which has taken two precious lives and injured three,” it read.
“The KPT has confirmed that a FIR of the incident is also being lodged against those responsible for the incident.”
Undertaking repair works in such a sensitive area is a specialized job and is supposed to be conducted under authorised experts, the port authority said. “Therefore, it appears that ignition of in such a fire is a sequel to some serious violation of safeties required to be adopted for such a work.”
“All available KPT efforts and assets were brought to bear the brunt of potentially endangering the major part of the large Oil Installation Area (OIA) in Keamari. Although OIA does not fall under the area of KPT responsibility, KPT took its initiative to thwart the menace of fire that threatened the major oil storage of Pakistan adjacent to the KPT area. What has caused the fire is unclear at the moment. However, reports say that PSO staff was working on its fuel carrying lines inside the Shell premises while the fire occurred.”
The KPT said its firefighting team reached scene of fire immediately with seven fire tenders as soon as the incident was reported at 1.05pm. “Two fire tenders of Pakistan Navy and one fire tender of KMC also participated in this firefighting operation. The KPT sprayed foam over fire and then later engaged two thermosal (foam making machine) for dousing the fire. Besides, mud was also dumped over fire through dumpers.”
A Pakistan Rangers Sindh spokesperson said the paramilitary force’s personnel reached the site and cordoned off the area.
They participated in the efforts to rescue the victims and control the fire.
“Water tankers were summoned from the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board hydrants and fire tenders from the Fire Brigade,” he added.
Keamari remains the major oil storage terminal in the country. Almost all oil marketing companies, including PSO and Shell Pakistan, supply petroleum products to their petrol pumps across the country through the terminal.
This is the second time this year a fire has broken out at the oil terminal.
Earlier, Pakistan Refinery Limited (PRL), a subsidiary of the state-owned PSO, temporarily suspended production after the recent spell of heavy rainfall and flooding affected the refinery’s operations and damaged its pipeline transporting crude oil to the refinery in the city of ports.
Due to the unusually heavy rain in Karachi on August 25, rainwater had washed away a portion of the Piles Bridge carrying the intra-city oil pipeline of the company, which connects Keamari Terminal to the refinery at Korangi Creek transportation of cure oil and product.
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