A woman and her children were killed and five others were injured in an explosion that shook a residential building near Mosamyat Chowk on University Road on Tuesday morning.
Initial investigations suggest the explosion likely occurred due to a gas leakage.
The blast, which ripped through a pizza outlet located in the building – Crown Gardens, left the eatery and two neighbouring realtors' offices completely destroyed while three other shops were partially damaged.
Panic ensued and chaos reigned when the explosion occurred. The scale of the blast was such that a van of the K-Electric overturned and added to the casualties.
LPG cylinders, computers, fans and several other goods kept in the affected shops were blasted into the air. Besides, several cars parked in the vicinity were damaged by the debris.
Rescue workers, the police, Sindh Rangers and other law enforcement personnel arrived and cordoned off the site. The Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) was also alerted.
A rescue operation was launched and the victims of the blast were shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.
A woman, identified as Sadia, 35, and her children, three-year-old Abdullah and four-year-old Fatima, were declared dead on arrival.
Meanwhile, the injured were identified as Burhan Amir, 35, Fahad, 35, Ali Akbar, 25, Rehan Bashir, 25, and Javed Hanif, 28.
According to Gulistan-e-Jauhar SHO Azam Gopang, the eatery was closed when the blast occurred. Sadia lived near Kamran Chowrangi and was visiting her brother, whose flat was located on the third floor of Crown Garden, he said, adding that she was ascending a staircase, located right behind the eatery, when the air blasted.
Gulshan-e-Iqbal SP Maroof Usman said that the blast likely occurred due to a gas leakage. But, he said, it was too soon to confirm the cause of the blast.
However, when the BDS team arrived for inspection they said that they did not find any traces of explosive material at the site.
The BDS issued a clearance certificate for the site and dubbed gas leakage as the likely cause of the explosion.
After their initial inspection of the site, the squad's team said that a gas cylinder kept in the pizza outlet's kitchen was the likely culprit.
But sources in the BDS also suggested that since KE teams were working nearby, it was possible that a spark occurred in a wire or a switch of the pizza outlet and that combined with the gas present in the eatery led to the blast.
Meanwhile, SHO Gopang added that the shop's owner, Aslam, was called and he said he had rented out the shop to people running the eatery.
In any case, the SHO said, Aslam has been summoned to the station. East DIG Saqib Ismail Memon and East SSP Sajid Sadozai also visited and inspected the site of explosion.
They directed the police to complete the investigations soon.
Read more: Woman, four kids die in gas explosion
Third in six months
This was the third such explosion witnessed in the metropolis in six months.
At least six people were killed and several others were wounded when a loud explosion occurred on the ground floor of a residential building near Maskan Chowrangi in Gulshan-e-Iqbal on October 21, 2020.
Then too, the BDS had initially claimed that the blast occurred due to a gas cylinder explosion but later reports indicating the presence of explosive material surfaced.
Samples collected from the site were sent for testing to a laboratory in Lahore but the matter remains a mystery till date.
Similarly, at least eight people were killed and over 35 others were injured when the boiler of an ice factory in New Karachi Industrial Area exploded on December 22.
The cause behind the blast is yet to be ascertained.