Editorial: Death toll reaches 15 in Turbat cylinder blast

The death toll in the Turbat gas cylinder blast tragedy has climbed to 15, as another child, Ayaz, succumbed to his injuries on Thursday.

On November 28th, a mini-bus carrying schoolchildren and teachers back to their homes made a stopover at a local snack stall in front of Park Hotel in the city of Turbat. As people, mostly children, lined up to buy pakoras, a gas cylinder burst caused a massive explosion taking down almost everyone standing close-by.

Within seconds the smoking bodies of the injured and killed laid across the main road as passersby gathered to figure help.

From a total of 22 injured, 15 have succumbed to their burn injuries so far, according to hospital records obtained by Balochistan Times. One other remains in serious condition at a Karachi hospital.

The dead include four siblings, twenty-year-old Mohammad Ayoub and his three younger sisters. Ayoub,  a law student and part-time teacher, had stopped by the stall along with his his three sisters moments before the blast happened.

The injured had to be rushed to Karachi for lack of a burns center in the Turbat city, raising serious questions over the inaccessibility of burn wards and proper medical amenities in Balochistan.

Nineteen wounded were admitted to Patel Hospital, Karachi, and three to Civil Hospital,Karachi.

The local media quoted Ayoub’s father, Mohammad Sharif, as saying that he had to pay for the medicines and tests during the treatment of the children from his own pocket. “At the funeral of my third child, I was confused whether to stay or go to the hospital to see my fourth child dying of the injuries,” he grieved.

Earlier this year, a gas cylinder blast at a wedding in Turbat’s Shapuk area killed 12 wedding-goers and turned the entire celebration into mourning.

Although the root cause for this tragic negligence lies among the absence of awareness in prevention and not adhering to workplace health and safety protocol, the aftermath of such incidents could have been prevented if the government played its part in providing basic medical facilities such as building burn wards and equipping hospitals with swift emergency response units.

But on government’s part, only a couple of local politicians, such as provincial minister Zahoor Buledi, showed up at hospital with their mobile-camera squads ensuring the gesture was recorded and shared on Twitter to cash public sympathy.

If we count in the death toll caused by the blasts in CNG running cars in Balochistan throughout the year, the number is way more disturbing to not being acted upon.With tall government claims of billions of dollars in investments, the local native owners of the largest gas resources remain deprived of the very gas facilities. While the rest of Pakistan enjoys gas connections brought directly to their kitchens, the people of Balochistan are forced to being exposed to hazardous gas cylinders smuggled from Iran.