August 2003 News

55 killed 145 wounded in explosive material blast in Diamir

3 August 2003
News Network International

DIAMER: Fifty-five people were killed and one hundred and forty five others wounded including 20 with fatal injuries when explosives went off in Gyal village of Diamir district on Sunday morning. The explosives stores in a house of the village used for road building ignited in a home in a village in Diamir district of Gilgit, a town some 240 km north of Islamabad. The explosives were stored in the residence of a local contractor, Waris Khan, who died in the blast in the village of Ghair early Sunday, local police official said. The blast was believed to have been accidental, he said. According to Pakistan Television the death toll touches 45, however correspondent from Diamir revealed that 55 dead bodies were recovered and another 8 missing are also believed killed in the incident. The explosion happened at 2 am, and several homes in the village, where dwellings are clustered close together, caught fire, the policeman said. Many of the dead were women and children. Pakistan Army and local administration rescue teams immediately rushed the spot and put off the fire after a struggle of at least 8 hours. The rescue teams also evacuated other victims and shifted them to the nearest hospital in Chilas. The home storing the explosives was made of wood, and it was believed that an electrical short circuit caused a fire in the storage area, igniting the explosives, said an Interior Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. A further 13 people were missing after the incident. The injured persons were rushed to Chelas hospital were most of them were stated to be in critical condition. The explosions occurred when the people of the village were busy in efforts to extinguish the fire, which caused by the short-circuiting. Soon after the incident, the high officials of the administration and social workers rushed to the scene and started rescue operation. Eyewitnesses said that the neighbours of the contractor informed those villagers who gathered to control the fire about presence of explosive material in the home. When they tried to manage to reach at safer place the explosive went off and engulfed the whole village. The short-circuiting caused talking to journalists, Assistant Commissioner Diamer Haji Adam Shah informed that the fire that engulfs the storage of the explosive material. The contractor of Public Works Department owned the house in which the explosive and detonators were stored, he added. The Assistant Commissioner maintained that the explosive was stored to be used in cutting hills to manage to build a water channel in the area. To a question, he said that the contractor violated the rules by storing in the explosive material in populace area. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali Sunday expressing grief over the Gilgit tragedy directed the concerned authorities for immediate provision of relief to the victims and to hold inquiry of the incident. The Prime Minister expressed sympathies with the victims of explosion that claimed precious lives. He also directed the Northern Areas Ministry to provide relief to the affected people and hold inquiry to ascertain the facts that caused explosion. When contacted Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, he feared the death toll may touch 60 as some missing are feared dead and those breathing hard in the hospital with fatal injuries struggle hard to survive. 'This is an accident and could not be conceived as an act of terrorism or sabotage,' Sheikh Rashid said. The entire village population gathered around the house burning due to short circuit of electricity in a bid to put off the fire. But unluckily the explosive stored in its adjacent wooden house caught the fire and blew away the entire vicinity with a powerful explosion.- foot();


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