LAHORE: A powerful explosion in an under-construction building in Lahore’s busy Defence Y block area, left at least eight people dead and 21 injured.
Punjab government authorities have claimed that the blast was the result of a “generator explosion”. However multiple sources, including Nayab Haider, a spokesman for the provincial Punjab police have said the explosion was caused by a bomb.
The area where the first blast occurred is a busy locality with several commercial offices and eateries. Footage shows nearby offices including HBL, Toni and Guy, Gloria Jeans, Bombay Chowpatty, Jalalsons among others.
Extent of damage
TV footage shows windows of several offices and eateries in the commercial area shattered by shrapnel.
TV footage shows shattered windscreens in cars parked nearby as well as rubble from the damaged building strewn across the road. Windscreens of cars parked over 100 feet away from the building were shattered and there was considerable damage to the cars’ bodies.
Residents and nearby shoppers panicked as the explosion was heard, and eyewitnesses described people evacuating buildings and running from the scene of the incident.
Broken crockery and furniture was strewn on the road in the area and the road appeared to be carpeted by shattered glass.
‘People were crushed’
A Rescue 1122 official said 35 people are injured and being treated in hospitals, with some sustaining critical wounds. “The injuries are severe… the magnitude of the blast – the impact – is very high. One storey collapsed and people were crushed underneath.”
A witness who works at a bank in the market told Reuters that his workplace was shaken by a “frightening” explosion.
“We left the building and saw that the motor-bikes parked outside were on fire and all the windows in the surrounding buildings were shattered,” the witness, Mohammad Khurram, said.
Search operation ongoing
The market had been sealed by law enforcement personnel and a search operation is ongoing. Teams from Punjab Forensic Science Laboratory had reached the spot to collect evidence.
Parents were also told to take their children back home as schools in the area had been asked to shut down for the day, DawnNews reported.
Capital City Police Officer Lahore is present at the site of the blast, DawnNews reported. CCTV footage has been requested from all shops in the area. DawnNews reported.
Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah said after the blast: “There was no reason to target the building. I have been informed that plaza was not inaugurated yet.”
The report of the blast came as cities across Pakistan were put on high alert after a spate of deadly terror attacks.
A day earlier, the military announced a massive urban counter-terrorism operation after a week of bombings in Punjab, Sindh, Fata, Khyber Pakhtunwa and Balochistan took at least 100 lives.__Dawn.com