A mysterious toxic gas killed at least 14 people and made several others sick in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi, police said on Tuesday.
The authorities were made aware of the incident when residents of Karachi’s Keamari area stormed into nearby hospitals on Sunday evening with severe breathing problems.
The source of a toxic gas leak remained unclear on Tuesday. Officials said 14 people had been killed so far, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Ziauddin Hospital spokesman Amir Shehzad told the newspaper that nine deaths had occurred on the hospital's Keamari campus in the past two days.
According to the police, two other deaths have been reported at Kutiyana Hospital.
Dozens of others have been hospitalized in various medical facilities across the city.
"We are still clueless about the possible cause of the incident," said Karachi chief of police Ghulam Nabi Memon.
Local residents protested at Jackson Market in Keamari, demanding that the authorities respond to the deaths caused by the mysterious gas.
Memon said senior police officers are trying to determine the exact nature of the incident in consultation with the doctors.
In the meantime, Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani said that a ship dumping soybeans or a similar substance could be the likely cause of the toxic gas.
"If unloading from this ship is stopped, the smell will decrease too much," he argued.
Minister of Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi dismissed the report that it was caused by a soybean ship because the crew and the ship were OK.
Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah has ordered the Karachi police commissioner to submit a priority report on the matter, ARY News reported.