Mysterious deaths – 28 Jan 2023

Eighteen mysterious deaths occurred over 16 days in Karachi’s Keamari region, each victim with similar symptoms

Eighteen mysterious deaths occurring over a period of 16 days in Karachi’s Keamari region has recently prompted the Sindh Health Department to conduct a community response and investigation into the matter. All the victims were found to have similar symptoms — fever, sore throat and shortness of breath — and died within five to seven days following their onset. The initial investigation report was consistent with what local community members suspected — that a poisonous gas with a foul odour, being emitted from nearby factories, was irritating the throats of nearby residents and causing interstitial lung disease.

In response, the health department has arrested four people including a factory owner for such negligence and will take action against three stone burning factories illegally established in the locality. Illegal establishment of factories near residential areas has been a major problem for the financial hub. It is not just a major inconvenience for residents but also entails serious health consequences, especially respiratory illness. Such illegal establishments have of course taken place in connivance with government officials who provide the necessary documentation in exchange for bribes. Many government plots of land and parks across the city have been handed over for this purpose. Apart from this, there is also poor implementation of factory ordinances that restrict the use and emission of harmful and poisonous substances. As a result, the air quality of Karachi continues to be unhealthy as the city has consistently been regarded as one of the most polluted cities in the world.

The Sindh government has not just turned a blind eye to this issue but continue to mint money while allowing such people to carry out illegal practices and deteriorate the socio-economic condition of the mega-city. A sincere and powerful administrative force is required to undo the mess that Karachi has become. Factories must strictly adhere to laws and regulation that are in place for the safety of citizens and labourers.

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