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ISLAMABAD: Nine Chinese nationals and three Pakistanis lost their lives after a bus carrying them for Dasu Hydropower Station project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa “plunged into a ravine after a mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas that caused a blast,” Foreign Office said.

In a statement, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri added that further investigation into the incident is under way following China’s request for a thorough investigation and to “severely punish the perpetrators”.

Chaudhri said that Ministry of Foreign Affairs is closely in contact with the Chinese Embassy for coordination and facilitation.

Giving details, he stated: “This morning a bus carrying Chinese workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, plunged into a ravine after a mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas that caused a blast.”

According to preliminary reports, he confirmed that nine Chinese nationals and three Pakistanis lost their lives. Chinese workers and accompanying Pakistani staff were proceeding to their work place for an ongoing project, he added.

He said the local authorities are providing all possible assistance to the injured. “The government and people of Pakistan extend sincere condolences to the families of Chinese and Pakistani workers who lost their lives in the incident. We also pray for quick recovery of the injured,” he further stated.

Chaudhri further stated: “Pakistan and China are close friends and iron-brothers. Pakistan attaches great importance to safety and security of Chinese nationals, projects and institutions in Pakistan.”

Chinese response:

Soon after the incident, China asked Pakistan to thoroughly investigate the incident. Condemning the attack, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian urged Pakistan to “severely punish the perpetrators and earnestly protect the safety of Chinese nationals, organisations and projects” in the country.

In a separate statement, the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad “strongly condemned” the incident and called for strengthening security of the Chinese personnel and finding the “truth” behind the incident “as soon as possible”.

“At around 7 am local time on July 14, the attendance shuttle bus for the Dasu Hydropower Station project in Cape Province, which was constructed by a Chinese company, encountered an explosion on its way to the construction site. So far, 9 Chinese personnel and 3 Pakistani personnel have been killed. Pakistan is investigating the cause,” the Embassy said.

“After the incident, the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan launched the emergency plan as soon as possible, contacted the Pakistani military, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior and other relevant departments, requesting Pakistan to carry out rescue and treatment at all costs, and strengthen the support of Chinese institutions and projects in Pakistan. The security of personnel, and as soon as possible to find out the truth of the incident. The Pakistani military has organized rescue at the first time and dispatched helicopters to transport the wounded,” it added.

“The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan strongly condemned the incident, expressed deep condolences to the victims, and sincere condolences to the injured, and will do its best with Pakistan to deal with the incident,” the statement further stated.

“The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan hereby reminds Chinese citizens, enterprises and projects in Pakistan to attach great importance to them, pay close attention to the local security situation, strengthen the safety of project personnel, take strict precautions, and do not go out unless necessary,” it added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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