KARACHI: The gas leak incident in the city’s port area has so far taken 14 lives and has affected more than 500 people who have been hospitalized with breathing issues.
The incident took place in the Keamari area near the Karachi port and caused widespread alarm and panic with many people being treated at various hospitals due to the toxic gas inhalation.
There have been conflicting reports regarding the source of the gas which has affected different areas of the city and hospitalized hundreds. It is now believed to have been caused by a soybean dust allergy according to the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Science and Technology Dr Ataur Rehman who said that the soybean dust had dispersed during the offloading of a consignment from a docked ship.
A report issued by the forensic science lab at ICCBS, University of Karachi claims that soybean could be the most likely cause of the incident and said that blood and urine samples of the patients indicated that they had serious allergic reactions to soybean dust.
However, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) insists that Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) gas is the cause of the incident which had been emitted from oil installations at the Karachi Port which conflicts the report by the University of Karachi’s ICCBS that claims soybean dust is the cause of the incident which had been dispersed from a ship carrying hundreds of tons of soybean.
The conflicting reports don’t just end there, as the Chemical Science Laboratory of the Sindh Government and officials at the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) said that Methyl Bromide (Ch3Br) used in fumigation of large vessels at ports was the cause of the incident.
Different areas of Karachi have been affected as a result with wind direction carrying the allergen or gas, whatever it maybe, to different parts of the city with the smell spreading to Clifton, Defence, Bath Island, M T Khan Road. The schools in the area have also been closed and people having to wear masks.
According to Dr. Muhammad Aqeel, who is a senior expert and Registrar of the Ziauddin Hospital, Keamari told The News that the cause of the incident was suspected gas poisoning due to hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide gas.
According to him. the conflicting reports of the incident could not allow specific treatments dn only symptomatic management was provided to patients.
Right now there is no single confirmation of the cause and these multiple reports are being unhelpful even when providing treatment to the affected.