KARACHI: A huge fire broke out when a tanker carrying 60,000 litres of diesel overturned on the Gulbai flyover and the fuel leaking from the tanker caught fire early on Wednesday morning.
While the tanker did not explode and no casualty was reported, six vehicles, a mobile chest pain unit of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and two warehouses located under the flyover caught fire when the leaking fuel spread there.
Commuters suffered immense hardship as the bridge was closed and traffic was diverted towards alternative routes.
A volunteer of the Chhipa ambulance services, Asif, told the media that he was on duty under the bridge when he heard a huge explosion and suddenly the fire engulfed two warehouses, one ambulance, five motorbikes and the container of mobile NICVD unit.
The NICVD employees immediately left their container for safety.
A fire brigade official said that the container of the NICVD and one warehouse were destroyed in the fire.
As many as 13 fire tenders take over two hours to extinguish the blaze
Besides the tanker, the destroyed vehicles included five motorcycles and an ambulance.
He told Dawn that they received information about the incident at around 7:30am. Initially, one fire tender was sent but realising the gravity of the fire, more fire tenders were called in to meet any eventuality. Two fire tenders of the Pakistan Air Force also joined the firefighting effort.
As many as 13 fire tenders managed to put out the blaze at 9:20am.
However, the remaining diesel was mopped up and the area was cleaned and declared open for traffic after 2pm.
SITE-B SHO Zawar Husain said that the tanker was carrying 60,000 litres of diesel. It ostensibly overturned when its tie-rod broke, he said.
The driver of the tanker managed to escape, he said, adding that the police impounded the tanker.
City fire chief Tahseen Siddiqi told media that fire tenders across the city and tenders of PAF took part in controlling the blaze.
DIG Traffic Javed Mahar also visited the spot.
The area SHO said that a case would be registered against the owner and the driver on charges of criminal negligence.
Over a dozen markets shut in protest over trader’s murder
Over a dozen markets in the old city area, particularly Jodia Bazaar, were shut on Wednesday in protest over the killing of a shopkeeper.
The Kharadar police said that Saleem Zameer, 60, was sitting at his shop at Mirchi Gali, Jodia Bazaar on Tuesday evening when apparently a lone armed man riding a motorbike fired at him and rode away.
He sustained three bullet wounds in the chest and was taken to the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi where doctors pronounced him dead on arrival.
City SSP Muqaddas Haider said that the police got significant clues about the possible motive of the murder and investigators were working on it. He ruled out the possibility that the murder was extortion-related or a targeted attack.
He said the investigators obtained the CCTV footage, which showed that there was a lone attacker who wore a helmet.
On Wednesday, traders protested over the killing by closing down 15 to 20 markets in the old city area, said All Karachi Tajir Ittehad chairman Atiq Mir.
He, however, also ruled out the possibility that it was an extortion-related murder. Yet he opined that the killing of a shopkeeper during business hours (7:30pm) put a question mark over the performance of law enforcers and indicated that there was no satisfactory security environment in markets.
He demanded snap checking by police at all entry and exit points, patrolling and establishment of pickets in markets to provide security to traders.
SSP Haider claimed that policemen were already deployed there and pickets were established. He said more policemen would be deployed and pickets would be established in the month of Ramazan to provide a more secure environment to traders.
Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2019