Unloading of soybean halted at Karachi port over fears of fatal dust
Statesman Report
KARACHI: Following the deaths of more than a dozen Karachi residents and scores being hospitalised due to air toxicity, unloading of soybean at Karachi Port was halted on Wednesday as a report called it the cause behind the deaths.
According to a report compiled by the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at Karachi University, an aeroallergen from soybean dust was found in the blood samples collected from the people, who died after the suspected gas leakage in the city’s Keamari area.
Earlier on Wednesday, a US ship identified as ‘Hercules’, docked at the Karachi port, was removed as its unloading of soybean was leading to air toxicity, however, the ship is still docked at one of the city’s ports.
Sources claimed that after the ship left for port Bin Qasim from Karachi port, there was a significant reduction in air pollution.
It was learnt that the ship carrying soybean reached Karachi on February 15. The citizens of Kemari railway colony started being affected by the aeroallergen since the evening of February 16.
No immediate need to evacuate Keamari area, Sindh minister says
Today, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah said there was no need for an immediate evacuation of the city’s Keamari area, where more than a dozen over the weekend after inhaling a lethal substance.
“An investigative team under commissioner Karachi has been constituted [to probe the matter],” Shah told Geo Pakistan. “Till the committee presents its reports, it is impossible to say anything.”
The provincial minister said the present situation in the Keamari area did not merit an evacuation.
He noted that those sickened after breathing in the noxious substance were being treated at various hospitals in the metropolis.
The death toll from what was initially suspected to be a gas leak (an official statement has yet to be made) rose to 14 on Tuesday, with 25 more brought to the hospital on Wednesday morning.
Mayor in the dark
Separately, Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar told Geo Pakistan that he was not informed about the incident at a government level.
“Neither the Sindh government nor the federal government informed me about the situation. What I know about the situation in Keamari is from what I have seen on television,” Akhtar said.
Criticising the provincial and the federal governments, Akhtar said the two should have taken the public into confidence over what had happened.
“They should have come on TV and informed the public about the cause of the gas leak.”
“Neither the Sindh nor the federal government seem serious about the situation,” he alleged.
When asked what the government planned to do for the families of the deceased and those affected, the mayor said the government did not have money to pay salaries to its own employees (let alone support victims).