There has been no significant progress in the investigation of the New Karachi ice factory explosion, which claimed the lives of 10 people, despite the passage of two days, with police investigators and bomb disposal squad personnel finding it difficult to determine the actual cause of the blast.
A case has been registered against the factory management at the New Karachi Industrial Area Police Station on behalf of the state, and murder and negligence charges have been included under sections 322, 427, 285, 286 and 337A/34.
SHO Younus Khattak said the factory management had been booked in the case as it had been learnt that the explosion could have occurred due to negligence on its part.
The owner of the factory is currently abroad and has been contacted. However, the police are investigating if he was running the factory from abroad or some contractor was incharge of the property.
The SHO said the owner would also be nominated in the FIR if he was found guilty during the investigation. Though a case had been registered, no arrest had been made as the factory management had disappeared, he added.
The investigators are still awaiting the initial report prepared by bomb disposal squad experts. The SHO said the BDS experts were yet to issue the initial report about the cause of the explosion. He said the experts had sent samples collected from the factory to a laboratory and they themselves were waiting for the lab report, which would help the investigators in probing the incident.
According to a BDS expert, a boiler explosion could not have caused damage to the ice factory and the two adjacent factories, and experts are unable to examine the area to ascertain if a boiler had been installed at all. He said the cause of the explosion could not be determined quickly as the debris removal work was still continuing.
The officer said ammonia gas spread in the area after the explosion, which, besides being used in commercial activities, was also used in manufacturing home-made improvised explosive devices.
Police said the possibility of a terrorist act could not be ruled out, while investigators were investigating the incident through different angles.
The death toll from Tuesday’s explosion in the ice factory in New Karachi rose to 10 on Wednesday. The powerful blast had destroyed the building structure, also wounding 25 others, damaging two neighbouring industrial units and vehicles, bringing down the electricity supply and shattering the windowpanes of several houses in the adjoining residential block.
Though it was initially reported that the incident occurred after a boiler at the factory exploded, the factory management and the industrial association claimed no boiler had been installed in the factory, as ice factories did not require boilers. They said that it could be a compressor explosion, but all the compressors at the ice factory remained intact, and a gas leakage could have been the cause of the explosion.
A University of Karachi laboratory came to the conclusion that explosive material was used in the blast that caused the collapse of a multi-storey building in Gulshan-e-Iqbal on October 21, killing nine people and injuring several others. Initially, the Bomb Disposal Squad had declared that the explosion was caused by gas leakage, but the SSGC had denied it.
The KU lab report revealed that TNT explosive material was used in the blast. In light of the new findings, the police invoked the Anti-Terrorism Act and referred the case to the Counter-Terrorism Department for an investigation as it was an act of terror.