Karachi gas leak - Pakistan Today

Karachi gas leak

  • With the cause unknown, ICU patients need the most attention

The gas leak in Kemari presented the scene of a gas attack, except that the source of gas attacks is usually known. The source of the fatal gas in Kemari is not known, though investigations are said to be proceeding apace. What is known generally could not very well have been hidden, not after a death toll of at least 17. There are about half a dozen patients scattered across four hospitals’ ICUs who needed proper treatments. Patients started arriving on Sunday night complaining of breathing difficulties and nausea. They all belonged to the same locality in Kemari, behind the railway station.

The prevention of repetition requires that the cause be identified. One of the suspects is the unloading of a container of soybeans. Another is the result of cleaning of storage terminals for oil and petrochemicals. The possibility of terrorist action has not been ruled out publicly, with the gas having produced symptoms similar to those reported from both Iran after Iraqi attacks, and by Syrian rebels after alleged regime attacks. At the moment, doctors are treating only symptoms, not administering an antidote, because they do not know what poison they have to treat. Preventing another episode requires a review of the events that led to this shocking occurrence, so that preventive measures could be taken. If there was deliberation, there must be ways of placing obstacles in the way of the criminals. If there was an accident or neglect, procedures will have to be revised to ensure that there is no repetition.

There is the danger of the provincial government attempting to handle the crisis on its own, not so much because provincial matters are involved, as because it is opposed to the federal government politically. If the federal government can be of any use in either the treatment of the victims or in the investigation (especially since a port facility may be involved), neither should the provincial government hesitate to call on it to help, nor should the federal government hesitate to provide any resources it can. This is not the time to play politics, but to help the victims still fighting for their lives.