The Sindh health department conducted a community response visit in Karachi’s Keamari on Thursday after receiving reports about “18 mysterious deaths”.
The statement released by the health department’s Public Relation Officer (PRO) Mehar Khursheed said that the visit was conducted in Ali Mohammad Goth and Moach Goth.
It added that the 18 deaths were reported over a period of 16 days, from Jan 10 to Jan 25.
The victims were citizens of all ages and showed initial symptoms of fever, sore throat and shortness of breath, the statement said, adding that they were dead within five to seven days of the onset of the illness.
The statement further said that symptomatic patients were examined but they did not have any rashes. It, however, noted that the community was “concerned with severe irritating smell” permeating the environment.
According to the community, two factories had been constructed within their village and were creating a “foul smell” which was also irritating their throats, the statement said.
“As per initial investigation, the cause of these deaths are some chemicals which are developing interstitial lung disease. Medical camps for the treatment of pneumonia [have] also been established in the affected area,” the health department said, adding that further investigation was under way.
Factory owner among 4 arrested
Meanwhile, district administration and police said that four people, including one factory owner, had been arrested due to the deaths of at least 10 children.
Keamari Deputy Commissioner Mukhtiar Abro told Dawn.com that several children had recently died in Ali Mohammed Goth. He said a team of doctors led by the Keamari district health officer were dispatched to ascertain the cause of death.
“The doctors took samples for investigation purposes,” he said. He said that the deceased children had exhibited “similar symptoms”.
Abro, who also visited the affected area, said that three factories had been illegally established in the locality. “These factories reportedly burned stones, locally known as ‘Chinese stones’, that emitted smoke which caused breathing problems for residents.”
He surmised that the deaths may have occurred due to some “poisonous gases” or some other ailments, adding that the doctor’s report was awaited.
DC Abro said the three factories in question had been sealed, adding that four people, including one of the factory owners, had been arrested.
Moachko police Station House Officer (SHO) Chaudhry Shahid told Dawn.com that residents claimed 10 children had died during the last three to four months.
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