LAHORE: As the huge explosion shook The Mall with a bang, everyone present on the road from Regal to Charing crosses ran for cover.
This scribe was at the scene when the blast occurred. It was 6:15pm. Within five minutes of the blast, Rescue 1122 and police vehicles arrived at the scene, which was completely in flames.
“There are bodies and injured people at the scene,” cried Afzal, a shopkeeper on the road. “I’m really too much frightened; Oh God, I’ve seen blood and bodies myself.”
The Mall and adjoining thoroughfares were already in a chaos due to a chemists’ daylong protest at Charing cross. Traffic police officials looked busy diverting traffic to other roads from The Mall. Rescue vehicles were moving at a snail’s pace as several vehicles were already parked at roadside lots.
The blast occurred near the Alfalah Building.
Just seconds before the blast, a woman was seen leaving the building in a car. After the blast, she left the car near the building and left the scene on foot. She was heard saying on mobile phone that she was safe and would be home in 20 minutes. Besides this woman, many people were seen leaving their motorcycles in the parking lot and running to safer places after the police officials told the people to evacuate the area.
As soon as the blast scene was cordoned off and the people removed from Charing cross, rescuers with police officials started shifting the injured people and bodies to hospitals. Their first preference was the Ganga Ram Hospital, the public teaching infirmary, 300 metres from the blast site. The influx of injured people at the hospital caused chaotic scenes at the already busy hospital.
Shahzad Ahmed was running after paramedics to get his 17-year-old nephew treated in the emergency ward.
“My nephew Shahbaz Badsha is seriously injured,” he cried. “He was passing by the chemists’ rally with my sister on a bike. Thank God, my sister is safe.”
Deputy Commissioner Sumair Ahmad Syed declared an emergency in all Lahore hospitals. “It’s very sad to say that we’ve lost two senior, competent police officers,” he said, fighting back tears.
Later on, Inspector General Mushtaq Sukhera also visited the blast scene and praised the police officers killed in the blast. The mayor and the commissioner visited the Ganga Ram and other hospitals.