Rescuers gather at the site of the bomb blast in Karachi on March 3, 2013. — Photo by AFP

At least 45 killed, 135 injured; many died in their apartments

KARACHI: At least 45 people, many women and children among them, were killed and over 135 injured in a massive bombing in the city’s Shia-dominated neighbourhood of Abbas Town on Sunday evening.

The explosion took place at the time of Maghrib prayers between two apartment blocks at the entrance to Abbas Town.

A blast had taken place on November 18 last year at almost the same place. It was caused by explosives tied to a motorcycle. A police official initially said the bomb blast had taken place not far from an Imambargah.

But the brunt of the attack was borne by two adjoining blocks of Rabia Flowers and Iqra City. The ground and first floors in both the blocks were badly damaged, exposing the living rooms of apartments. Some flats were reduced to rubble.

There were reports that several residents died inside their apartments because of the sheer impact of the blast and injuries caused by shrapnel.

At least three bodies buried in the rubble were retrieved by rescue workers by late night but there were fears that more bodies could still be there.

The balconies on the upper floors were also blown off and flames were leaping out from apartment on the fourth floor.

According to initial estimates, 40 to 50 apartments were destroyed and over 10 shops flattened.

Law-enforcement officials stayed away from the place for quite some time after the blast.

East Karachi DIG Aleem Jafri suspected that an explosive-laden vehicle might have been used.

“Over 150kg of high explosives laced with ball bearings were detonated by a time device,” he told Dawn, citing a report of the bomb disposal unit.

The blast left a four-foot deep crater of 10-foot circumference. An area of around 700 metres had been affected, the DIG said.

Police found an engine and some parts which indicated that a car had been used for the massive bombing. However, they didn’t find any particulars of the vehicle.

“About 45 deaths have occurred and as many as 135 wounded are in various hospitals. More than 70 patients have been admitted to the Aga Khan Hospital, 32 to Liaquat National Hospital, 17 to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, 12 to the JPMC and one to Civil Hospital,” Sindh Health Secretary Dr Suresh Kumar said.

Most of the injured were first taken to the nearby Patel Hospital.

The Aga Khan and Liaquat National Hospitals were overwhelmed by the injured needing immediate treatment.

JPMC Deputy Director Dr Seemin Jamali said 18 bodies had been brought there and a young boy, Qasim, was in critical condition.

Some relatives were seen frantically searching for their loved ones in different hospitals till late in the night.

Some bodies were charred beyond recognition, rescue workers said.

Several bodies had been taken to cold storages in different Imambargahs by midnight.

MOURNING: Various Shia organisations called for a strike on Monday to register their protest against the attack.

The Majlis Wehdat-i-Muslimeen endorsed the strike call and announced three days of mourning.

The Sindh government and Muttahida Qaumi Movement also announced a day of mourning on Monday.

The representative associations of traders, private schools and transport also announced a closure on Monday.



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