International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) on Wednesday has revealed that “exposure to soybean dust" is causing severe respiratory problems for the locals of Keamari, an area of Karachi.

The report suggested to give bronchodilators and antihistamines to the patients admitted in the hospitals. It also recommended the local authorities to take extreme care during unloading of soybean containers from now on.

“Kindly note that soybean dust exposure related epidemics have been reported earlier from other parts of the world with associated morbidity and mortality," the report stated.

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Meanwhile, Sindh Government spokesperson and Advisor on Law, Environment and Coastal Development Barrister Murtaza Wahab tweeted, “Preliminary report has been submitted by experts at Karachi University which suggests that Keamari incident happened due to over exposure of soybean dust.”

This has also caused similar incidents in other parts of the world including Barcelona (Spain). The soybean is in a shipment docked at Karachi Port, he added.

On the other hand, All Pakistan Solvent Extractors’ Association rejected the report, saying that the first patient was hospitalised even before the soybean was unloaded.

“None of the around 400 labourers and ship crew who are involved in the discharge operation has been affected,” the statement said.

“The vessel was thoroughly inspected by the Department of Plant Protection after it arrived in Pakistan and they found nothing,” the association said.

Following the report unveiled by ICCBS, a session presided over by Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi was held to discuss the issue.

During the meeting, the participated decided to stop offloading of soybean at Karachi Port while it will be unloaded at Qasim Port.

An investigation team was also formed to look into the matter. 

It is to be mentioned here that about 14 people have been died due to the toxic gas so far whereas over 30 including women and children are still under treatment at different hospitals.