KARACHI: No one was crying at Jinnah hospital. No one was shouting, weeping or wailing. The only sound was that which comes from urgency - nurses, janitors and doctors scurrying to and from the accident and emergency ward and people looking for their loved ones.
This was the scene just a short distance from the bomb blast at the Crime Investigation Department office in Civil Lines on Thursday.
Sadly, there were more women and children than usual for this terrorist attack because the nearby houses were damaged. Kaneez, who was one of the 110 people injured in the attack, said the roof of her house collapsed. “The blast took place just two lanes behind us,” she said. Despite fainting only a couple of hours earlier, she was pumped full of the kind of adrenaline only a mother can have when her children go missing. She stumbled through Jinnah hospital in her bloodstained clothes looking for them. Her husband found two of them in ward 16 - where people are treated for head injuries after a CT scan.
Fifty-six year old Nazeer was also looking for her two children, both daughters with head injuries. Her little grandson was also injured. “Civil lines [her neighbourhood] has been destroyed, our mosque has been martyred and my children are lost,” she cried.
At Civil hospital, there was similar panic. A 35-year-old Zarshad, who was hit by a concrete slab, was crying in pain as his friend Miraj Khan tried to comfort him. “We were watching the news when the firing started, then suddenly the light went out and we heard a massive blast,” said Zarshad, who hails from Beeshaam in the northern areas.
Inside the CHK emergency ward, Bakht Meena lay with her two children Sher Ali, 10, and Liaquat, 3. They were rescued from under the concrete roof of their house.
CHK MLO Dr Mubarak Ali reported 35 injured people and one victim, Fida Khan.
Jinnah hospital’s deputy executive director Dr Seemin Jamali said in a statement to the media said 11 people were killed. “Ten of them were dead on arrival, while one person died during treatment,” she said. “Most of those dead are policemen and members of the Frontier Constabulary.” The list of the people was displayed outside the emergency ward. Health secretary Hashim Raza Zaidi added that there were reports of one person dead at Civil hospital.
The entrance of hospital’s emergency ward rang out with shouts of “Peechay jao” [move back] and “Hatt jao, hatt jao!” [move aside] as bodies - one after the other - lined up. There was panic over a rumour of another blast at the mobile market.
Ashraf and his son were also at the Jinnah hospital casualty while his wife sat on the floor outside the gate. The police are responsible for the incident, she yelled in her semiconsciousness.
Gul Naz, a seven-year-old girl, was hit near her right temple and her right ear. She was lying unconscious in surgical ward I, and her parents were missing. She was brought at JPMC by a neighbour Fazal Wali. “I was sitting inside the dera when I heard a maddening sound and suddenly the dera collapsed,” he said. “The roof and walls were made of mud so I escaped any injury.”
He rushed outside and entered a mosque for shelter where he saw an elderly man standing with Gul Naz in his arms. “I’ve tried calling Gul’s father’s cell phone many times, but Aitebar Khan hasn’t responded,” he said.
At the site
The smell of gas filled the air from damaged pipes in the neighbourhood. “But then some employees from Sui Gas came and disconnected the lines,” said resident Abdul Malik.
The windows of houses shattered with the impact. Most of the paan cabins, restaurants and houses located near the centre were destroyed. Marriott hotel windowpanes were also broken. “I was cooking Dal Fry in the kitchen when suddenly the firing started at around 8 pm and went on for about ten minutes,” said Hanif, a cook at Abbasi restaurant located near the CID centre. “Then we heard a big bang and the roof of our hotel fell and people started shouting.”
One man shouted at police and rescue workers as they streamed pas him. “Please and come and look here,” he shouted. “There are people trapped inside.” But their focus initially was the CID centre.
Septuagenarian Saeed Usmani was shedding tears outside his destroyed home as he received news from the hospital that his wife had died. His sons and relatives were incensed at the security forces. “Had the entire street been blocked for traffic and checkpoints installed at each end, the attackers wouldn’t have been to reach so far in,” said Usmani’s son. Other residents, were furious at the CID for being located in a residential area. All of them stopped the heavy machinery brought by the CDGK to lift the debris. “Our belongings, including the jewelry of our women, are under the rubble, how can we allow the bulldozers to take the debris away,” one of them complained.
with additional reporting by irfan aligi and sohail khattak
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2010.
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