This tragedy struck in Dasu, of Upper Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where Chinese engineers and construction workers are assisting Pakistan to build a dam which is part of CPEC.
According to eyewitnesses, nine Chinese engineers were among the 13 people killed in a bus carrying the engineers in northwest Pakistan’s mountainous region on Wednesday. Officials and eyewitnesses confirmed the bus was “attacked.”
Officials reported that the unexpected incident occurred in Dasu, Pakistan where Chinese engineers and construction workers under the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC), are building a dam.
Deputy Commissioner Upper Kohistan, Muhammad Arif in his initial statement said, nine Chinese nationals and two Frontier Corps soldiers died alongside about 13 people when the bus carrying Chinese construction workers exploded. An official reported that after the explosion, the bus fell into a deep Ravine, and the injured were rushed to hospitals in the area.
Government Officials Call for Investigation
Babar Awan, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs, in the National Assembly, tagged it a “Cowardly act” and stated “it wouldn’t divert attention from the special initiatives between Pakistan and it’s neighbours.” Furthermore, he said he would ask Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmen to provide a briefing on the security situation of the country and to keep the House updated on the happening.
According to BBC Urdu, “there was a loud noise and the bus bounced in the air and fell down,” an eyewitness reported. Another eyewitness stated, ” The bus looked like flying in the air after the blast. Few seconds later it fell on the ground with a loud thud.”
After the incident, the neighbourhood locals rushed to the scene of the occurrence where the injured were screaming.
While eyewitnesses affirm it was an attack, the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), responsible for construction of the dam mentioned in a statement that it as an “accident.”
Since, investigations have not been completed, officials couldn’t give more details.
Also, a senior government official said, “The bus plunged into a deep ravine after the blast and caused heavy losses. One Chinese engineer and one soldier are still missing. The rescue operation has been launched.”
Pakistan’s Government Against Fake News
In a bid to avoid false reports, Special Assistant to KP Chief Minister Kamran Khan Bangash said a competent delegation has been sent to Upper Kohistan to verify the information. Subsequently, he said, “the media is advised to avoid speculation on the matter.”
Bangash also said that a vast number of security officials were deployed to protect the Chinese nationals. Large number of Rescue 1122 ambulances arrived at the scene and those in critical condition were being shifted by helicopter.
In line with WAPDA’s report, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), said the bus plunged into a ravine after a mechanical failure that caused gas leakage and an explosion. It reported that nine Chinese nationals and three Pakistanis died on their way to the site, and investigations are ongoing while local authorities are providing support to those injured.
MOFA have publicly spoken on their close contact with the Chinese Embassy for coordination and facilitation. It also added that they are in great terms, as they are close friends and allies, and Pakistan accords a lot of importance to the safety of Chinese nationals and projects in the country.
CHINA BEGS TO DIFFER
The Chinese government has condemned the “bomb attack” on the bus carrying the Chinese engineers and constructors near Dasu hydro-power plant and has implored the Pakistan government to ensure “severe punishment” to the perpetrators of the act.
Furthermore, Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman at a media briefing in Beijing, when asked for details of the casualties and China’s stance on the issue, said China has condemned the “bomb attack” in Pakistan resulting in casualties of Chinese nationals. However, Zhao Lijian did not provide an official figure of casualties.
He said, “China extends its condolences to the those who died in the attack and sympathy for their families and the injured.”
“Security forces in Pakistan have taken actions to control the situation,properly transfer and save the injured,” he said.
“The Chinese side requests the Pakistan side to look into the truth, hold perpetrators accountable and give them severe punishment, so as to protect the security of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects,” he said.
Under the umbrella of the CPEC, a great number of Chinese nationals have been deployed in Pakistan for assistance on constructions and other projects in the country.