Soybean ship to be towed out of Karachi Port tonight: Port authority
KARACHI: Soybean carrying cargo ship Hercules will be towed to Port Qasim from Karachi Port tonight, Karachi Port Trust Authority said in a statement. The vessel will be tugged out of the port at required level of water at the channel, the authority announced. A decision made yesterday to remove the vessel from the port over apprehensions in the wake of recent deaths and health issues in population adjacent to the port. Earlier, it was decided to remove the ship from Berth number 10 of the port to the outer anchorage by 11:00 am on Wednesday. “Soybean cargo ship Hercules has not been removed from the port yet and will be towed to outer anchorage in view of the situation of waves,” sources said.
Maritime Minister Ali Zaidi had earlier told the media about decision to remove the cargo ship from the Karachi Port berth to Port Qasim. Dr Iqbal Chaudhry, the Director of International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi had advised the government to consider “exposure to soybean dust (aeroallergens)” as a cause of breathing difficulties being faced by residents of Karachi’s Keamari area.
So far, 14 people from different parts of Keamari have died and over 400 have been taken to hospitals for treatment reportedly after inhaling toxic gas. Residents complained of symptoms of breathing difficulties, burning sensation in the nose, watery eyes and itching in the throat. Dr Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary, in a letter sent to Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani said that the lab had 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 was still “extensively engaged in deciphering the cause of the toxic exposure”, the findings so far suggest that the symptoms being experienced by Keamari residents are a result of “overexposure to soybean dust”.