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Gas explosion in sewer kills 17 in Pakistan’s largest city

A web of cables dangles over rubble from a partially collapsed building where the floor has collapsed.
Rescuers and onlookers at the scene of a gas explosion in Karachi, Pakistan, that destroyed a bank building and killed at least 12 people on Saturday.
(Fareed Khan / Associated Press)

A powerful gas explosion in a sewage system in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, killed at least 17 people and injured 16 others Saturday, police said.

Police spokesman Sohail Jokhio said the blast was apparently caused when something ignited gas that had accumulated in the sewer beneath a local bank building in the Shershah neighborhood of the port city.

The powerful blast destroyed the HBL bank building. Video footage aired by local television stations showed the entire structure was damaged. The floor was blown out and furniture was mired in sewage from below. The impact of the blast damaged several cars parked nearby and threw debris onto a gas station on the other side of the building.

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Senior police Officer Sarafar Nawaz Shaikh said the loss of lives and property could be blamed on human errors of construction over the sewer. He said the number of injured also increased to 16.

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Witness Mohammad Sameer said he was in the crowded bank moments before the blast but left shortly before the explosion. He said he rushed back to help rescue victims. “Thank God I left the venue, otherwise I would also been among the affected ones,” he said.

Many sewage channels in the city have been covered, mostly illegally, by constructing concrete structures over them.

Mukhtar Abro, a local administrator, said illegal construction over the sewage area of the explosion was under notice to vacate and the structures were to be demolished.

In the evening, a bomb apparently planted in a motorcycle parked in a bazaar exploded in the southwestern city of Quetta, killing one passerby and wounding four others, police said. Two of the wounded were transported to hospital in critical condition. No one claimed responsibility for the blast.

Also Saturday, the military said it had killed three militants during two intelligence-based operations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan. The statement gave no further details of the two operations.


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