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Blast causes widespread devastation

KARACHI, March 3: A scene of death and destruction was witnessed at Abbas Town, a Shia-dominated neighbourhood on Abul Hasan Ispahani Road, where a powerful bomb explosion wrecked havoc on people coming out of a mosque as well as on two apartment blocks located adjacent to each other, killing over 40 people, including women and children, on Sunday evening.

Several ill-fated residents were killed inside their apartments by the massive impact of the bombing. Even after one hour to the blast, flames were still leaping out from some apartments as a lone fire tender was seen struggling to put out the fire.

The two apartment blocks — Rabia Flowers and Iqra City — bore the brunt of the blast and till late in the night rescue workers were digging out the debris in search of bodies or survivors.

The facades of the two apartment buildings were destroyed and the apartments on the ground and first floors on both sides were blown out by the impact of the blast. With the destruction of balconies, rooms of the apartments on upper floors were exposed.

Power supply broke down in both the blocks after electric wires snapped and a pole-mounted transformer caught fire due to the blast.

The fire had not spread on the ground floor, but it was seen leaping out from the fourth floor of some apartments.

Vehicles parked along the affected area were badly damaged.

Initial estimates suggested that around 40 apartments and over a dozen shops were destroyed in the blast.

As an emergency measure, the Sui Southern Gas Company also stopped gas supply to the affected area of Abul Hasan Ispahani Road to prevent any accident.

Panic and fear gripped the locality and many residents of the two apartment complexes left their homes with valuables to seek refuge in the houses of their relatives.

The blast took place at the entrance of the Abbas Town at around 6.58pm, but till 9.30pm, police, Rangers and even the bomb disposal unit decided not to enter the scene.

Area youths and volunteers of different charities carried out the rescue work and wounded persons were shifted to the Patel Hospital, the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital in private ambulances.

Youths in large number reached different hospital to donate blood for the wounded on the appeals for blood donations at several social media sites.

It was not the first act of terrorism targeting the Abbas Town.

The Sunday blast was a third terrorism incident at the Shia-dominated locality.

On Dec 4, 2012, a bomb rigged in a motorcycle exploded in the same area when a Muharram majlis was about to commence. On July 14, 2006 Allama Hasan Turabi was killed in a suicide bombing outside his home in Abbas Town.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has directed the health secretary to promptly monitor the treatment of the blast victims in the city's hospitals, adds APP.

He also instructed officials that the best possible treatment be provided to the wounded at government expenses.

He also directed that emergency be enforced in these hospitals and leaves of doctors and paramedical staff be cancelled.