Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam
At least 13 people have been reported dead and several others injured in a blast on a bus travelling through northern Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Wednesday, 14 July, reported AFP.
The explosion has resulted in the death of at least 9 Chinese nationals and two Pakistani soldiers who were reportedly present on the bus.
According to news agency AP, Asim Abbasi, an assistant commissioner in Kohistan, said authorities believe the incident was an accident but were probing whether there was some type of explosion in the bus.
Further AP quoted him as saying that a gas cylinder may have exploded and it was possible that explosive material was in the vehicle.
Explosives are often used by engineers in construction projects, the report further added.
Over 30 Chinese engineers had been on the bus, which was travelling to the Dasu dam in the country's Upper Kohistan.
The passengers, comprising engineers, paramilitary and other personnel, were reportedly working on a hydroelectric project under Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative.
What China Said
The Chinese embassy, in an earlier statement, dubbed the incident 'an attack', and as per AFP, urged 'severe punishment' for those purportedly behind it.
However, NYT reported that the foreign ministry later revised their statement, saying that it could have been an accident and endorsed a probe into the matter.
“Recently, our workers at a business on a certain project in Pakistan were attacked and have suffered deaths and injuries...We have notified Chinese citizens in Pakistan to avoid venturing outside unless required by work or business and pay especial care to their safety.”The Chinese Embassy
Zhao Lijian, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, was quoted by AP, as saying that China as 'shocked by and condemns the bomb attack in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province'.
“We mourn the Chinese and Pakistani personnel killed in the attack and express sympathies to the bereaved families and the wounded."Zhao Lijian, at a daily news briefing
“We have demanded the Pakistani side to get to the bottom of the incident, arrest and strictly punish the assailants as soon as possible, and earnestly protect the safety of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan,” Zhao further added.
'Mechanical Failure': Pakistan Foreign Ministry
However, Pakistan’s foreign affairs ministry informed that the bus had plummeted into the ravine owing to a "mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas that caused a blast," New York Times reported.
As per AP, Kamran Bangash, a government spokesman for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, had earlier requested the media to not speculate because probe was still underway in the incident. He further informed that helicopters were transporting critically injured persons to hospitals for treatment and investigators would soon brief the media about the cause.
Several other passengers have sustained critical injuries, local newspapers reported. They have been taken to the nearby Rural Health Centre in Dasu.
(With inputs from Reuters, AP, AFP, NYT and Dawn)