Toxic chemicals allegedly kill 18 people in Pakistan’s Karachi

18 people died in Karachi, allegedly due to toxic fumes from factories.

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  • 18 people have died in Karachi, allegedly due to the smell of toxic factory chemicals. 
  • Pakistani villagers suffered from fever, sore throat and shortness of breath. 
  • The factories emitting the smells have since been sealed off. 

At least 18 people have died in Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi in the past 16 days, allegedly due to toxic chemicals from factories in the area.

A statement from the Health Department of Sindh province on Thursday confirmed the deaths in the Ali Muhammad Goth neighbourhood in Karachi’s Keamari district from 10 to 26 January.

“As per initial investigation the cause of these deaths are some chemicals which caused some interstitial lung disease,” the statement said.

“Medical camps for the treatment of pneumonia have also been established in affected area. Further investigations are underway.”

According to residents, a foul smell came from two factories in their village, causing suffocation.

Health Department spokeswoman Mehar Khursheed said those who died suffered from fever, sore throat and shortness of breath.

She told Al Jazeera:

Within five to seven days of onset of illness, death occurred. On examination of symptomatic patients, they do not show any rashes. Conjunctivitis was present, although [the] community is concerned with [the] severe irritating smell in [the] environment.

Hafeez Leghari, a resident of Ali Muhammad Goth, told Al Jazeera that three adults were among the dead, and the rest were children ages one to 13.

“The government has sealed the factories in the areas which were giving away the fumes, and officials are here for further meetings with people in the area and for investigations,” Leghari said.

Murad Ali Shah, the chief minister of the province, issued a statement expressing his sorrow about the deaths and instructing authorities to conduct an inquiry.

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