LAHORE - A man died and two dozen others were wounded when a massive truck bomb ripped through Lahore’s Bund Road on Monday night.

A baby girl and many passersby were among the victims. Punjab’s counter terrorism department officers were at the scene till late Monday.

Police said they were investigating what caused the explosion on the Out-fall road near Suggian, a low-income neighbourhood housing warehouses, scrap godwons, and tuck stations. A major portion of the district plunged into darkness as the blast triggered power breakdown. The truck blast took place close to a grid station, rescue workers said.

Lahore’s DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf told The Nation that the element of terrorism behind the incident could not be ruled out. “It was an accidental blast. But it was a truck bomb. We are investigating the incident. We are searching for the truck driver,” the officer said.

Investigations were underway to ascertain what happened actually.

A rescue worker told this reporter that there was a “20 feet wide and 6-feet deep carter” at the site of the explosion. “We recovered a child from the debris of a nearby building that flattened following the blast,” said rescue worker Muhammad Younis Bhatti.

“The girl was moved to hospital in serious condition,” says Bhatti, who works with Chippa Foundation, a charity that runs ambulances in Karachi and Lahore to help victims of accidents and disasters.

Authorities sealed off the locality to help rescuers operate smoothly. Media crews were denied access to the blast site that was closed with the help of steel sheets.

The blast was so powerful that it shattered windowpanes of several nearby buildings. A city district government building was also partially damaged. “The victims sustained injuries after being hit by bricks and glasses,” another rescue official said. The blast also damaged several vehicles and electricity wires causing hours-long breakdown in the entire vicinity.

A spokesman for the Lahore electric supply company said the high-intensity blast badly damaged the circuit of the grid station. “Our field staff is there to fix the problem,” he said.

The explosion shook the provincial metropolis amid preparation to welcome ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is expected to reach his hometown by leading public rallies, probably by the end of this week.

Many police rushed to the site following the blast as ambulances were shifting the injured to nearby hospitals in queues.

Earlier, Lahore’s chief traffic officer visited the site and told reporters that the counter terrorism department will determine nature of the blast. “It is too early to say something,” SSP Rai Ijaz said. “A CTD team will tell what happened.”

Some 22 people were shifted to Mian Munshi hospital on private vehicles and ambulances. “Out of 22 total victims, 10 injured are admitted to our hospital. Ten others were discharged after first aid. Two patients are referred to the main Mayo hospital. Nobody is in critical condition,” claimed medical superintendent of the Mian Munshi hospital.

When asked about patients and injuries they suffered, the medical officer said that he had some conversation with the injured and their relatives. “One patient told me that an electric transformer caused the explosion as electric wires collapsed.”

A local resident Muhammad Rashid said that the blast was so powerful that it caused cracks in the two- storey house where he lives. “I was away when my cousin called me and said there was a blast outside. I rushed back home. It was terrible. It caused cracks in the boundary wall as well,” he said.

Because of the powerful impact of the blast, a nearby residential building collapsed within seconds. Late Monday night, rescuers recovered a dead body from the debris. Rescue operation was underway at the site till filing of this report. Earlier, they managed to pull out a girl from the debris. She was rushed to hospital with multiple injuries.

Some media reports suggested that the explosive material was placed beneath the truck loaded with fruits. The truck parts were found several hundred meters away from the site of the high-intensity blast. Police and paramilitary troops launched a major security sweep in the district following the blast.

Meanwhile, Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered the provincial police chief to send back a detailed report about the incident.

A rescue worker told this reporter that there was a “20 feet wide and 6-feet deep carter” at the site of the explosion. “We recovered a child from the debris of a nearby building that flattened following the blast,” said rescue worker Muhammad Younis Bhatti.

“The girl was moved to hospital in serious condition,” says Bhatti, who works with Chippa Foundation, a charity that runs ambulances in Karachi and Lahore to help victims of accidents and disasters.

Authorities sealed off the locality to help rescuers operate smoothly. Media crews were denied access to the blast site that was closed with the help of steel sheets.

The blast was so powerful that it shattered windowpanes of several nearby buildings. A city district government building was also partially damaged. “The victims sustained injuries after being hit by bricks and glasses,” another rescue official said. The blast also damaged several vehicles and electricity wires causing hours-long breakdown in the entire vicinity.

A spokesman for the Lahore electric supply company said the high-intensity blast badly damaged the circuit of the grid station. “Our field staff is there to fix the problem,” he said.

The explosion shook the provincial metropolis amid preparation to welcome ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is expected to reach his hometown by leading public rallies, probably by the end of this week.

Many police rushed to the site following the blast as ambulances were shifting the injured to nearby hospitals in queues.

Earlier, Lahore’s chief traffic officer visited the site and told reporters that the counter terrorism department will determine nature of the blast. “It is too early to say something,” SSP Rai Ijaz said. “A CTD team will tell what happened.”

Some 22 people were shifted to Mian Munshi hospital on private vehicles and ambulances. “Out of 22 total victims, 10 injured are admitted to our hospital. Ten others were discharged after first aid. Two patients are referred to the main Mayo hospital. Nobody is in critical condition,” claimed medical superintendent of the Mian Munshi hospital.

When asked about patients and injuries they suffered, the medical officer said that he had some conversation with the injured and their relatives. “One patient told me that an electric transformer caused the explosion as electric wires collapsed.”

A local resident Muhammad Rashid said that the blast was so powerful that it caused cracks in the two- storey house where he lives. “I was away when my cousin called me and said there was a blast outside. I rushed back home. It was terrible. It caused cracks in the boundary wall as well,” he said.

Because of the powerful impact of the blast, a nearby residential building collapsed within seconds. Late Monday night, rescuers recovered a dead body from the debris. Rescue operation was underway at the site till filing of this report. Earlier, they managed to pull out a girl from the debris. She was rushed to hospital with multiple injuries.

Some media reports suggested that the explosive material was placed beneath the truck loaded with fruits. The truck parts were found several hundred meters away from the site of the high-intensity blast. Police and paramilitary troops launched a major security sweep in the district following the blast.

Meanwhile, Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered the provincial police chief to send back a detailed report about the incident.