KARACHI      -         Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said that the deaths in Keamari area had occurred among people whose lungs were compromised due to smoking and asthma patients.

The provincial Health Minister said that the government had issued an advisory on soybean dust allergy based on a report of the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at the University of Karachi.

A purported gas leak in Karachi had killed 14 people and sickened 400 more, health officials said as panic gripped in the affected area and the authorities called in chemical and nuclear specialists from the armed forces to detect the source of the leak.

The leak set off a panic in Karachi and raised concerns because officials could not immediately identify the source and the type of gas involved.

The apparently odorless gas, which causes severe breathing problems, has sickened hundreds since striking Kamari on Sunday night when residents began rushing to local hospitals.

The International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) advised the government to consider ‘exposure to soybean dust (aeroallergens)’ as a cause of breathing difficulties being faced by residents of Keamari.

A letter sent to Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani by Dr Iqbal Choudhary, the director of ICCBS, said the lab has examined blood and urine samples of people ‘exposed to toxic aerosols’ as well as soybean dust samples collected from the port area. Dr Choudhary said that while the ICCBS is still ‘extensively engaged in deciphering the cause of this toxic exposure’, the findings so far suggest that the symptoms being experienced by Keamari residents are a result of ‘overexposure to soybean dust’.