Written by Staff Writer Written by Staff Writer
At least 14 people have died and hundreds more have been taken ill from an apparent toxic gas leak in a residential area of the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, officials said Friday.
The Pakistani press reported that around 250 residents from the area of Babloo Goth had been advised to leave the neighborhood as a precaution while police and emergency personnel were conducting a joint search for the perpetrators, who were believed to be inhaling the chemical.
Special investigation officer Arshad Mehmood Bablu told CNN that the victims were believed to have been sickened by gas from a huge furnace.
"A large-furnace and factory was located there," Bablu said. "It is suspected that it is the cause of the gas leak as the furnace is operational at the factory."
Health officials said the area was being evacuated and that doctors were doing what they could to treat the patients who were in critical condition.
Others who worked in the factory called the leak a "crime against humanity."
"We're the victims," Lalina Bibi told reporters outside the warehouse. "This is Pakistan, there is a system of giving compensation to such victims, why are they not doing that here? What is wrong with those at power? They are the ones who have caused this disaster."
Lahore, the capital of the Punjab province, is a city of about 12 million people.
It's also home to the Edhi Foundation, one of the country's most famous welfare organizations. The organization says it has delivered nearly a million meals, blankets and medicines to survivors of the blast.
"Around 50 tons of immediate relief goods including 9,000 ration sacks, blankets, medicine, containers and medical equipment have been dispatched and are being distributed at the spot," the Edhi Foundation said in a statement Friday.
The Edhi Foundation said it is working to ensure the victims receive "better medical treatment and basic necessities of life."
A post-blast operation report from the Edhi Foundation found that the majority of the victims were identified by their shoes. A large amount of the victims were reported to be in critical condition.
The gas leak occurred in a factory on the outskirts of Lahore, senior police official Tahir Naveed told CNN.
The factory was owned by a man who was not working at the time of the explosion, Naveed said. The injured have been admitted to a nearby hospital, he said.