KARACHI: A mysterious illness has killed 18 people, mostly children, in Karachi's Kemari area with health officials in this southern Pakistani port city still unable to find the cause of the deaths.
Director Health Services Abdul Hameed Jumani confirmed on Friday that 18 people, including 14 children, died from the mysterious illness in the Mawach Goth area in Kemari between January 10 and 25.
ÂA health team is working right now to find the cause of these deaths but we suspect it may be related to the sea or water as the goth (village) where these deaths have taken place is close to the coastal belt,Â he said.
Mawach Goth is a slum area with inhabitants mostly daily wage earners or fishermen.
Jumani said that the families of the deceased had confirmed that before their deaths their loved ones had high fever, swelling in throats and faced difficulty in breathing.
ÂSome residents have also complained that in the last two weeks there is a strange smell in the area,Â the official said.
Deputy Commissioner Kemari, Mukhtar Ali Abro, said they had also detained a factory owner for questioning.
ÂWe have called the provincial environmental agency as well which has collected samples from three factories which were operating in the area,Â he said.
The deceased include six people from one family including three children while a man lost his wife and three children to the mysterious illness.
Head of the Sindh centre for chemical sciences Iqbal Chaudhary said they had also collected some samples of soya bean from the factories and they felt the deaths could have been caused by soya allergy.
ÂEven particles of soya bean dust in the air can cause serious illnesses and deaths and air pollution and weather play a big role. We are yet to reach a definite finding but the samples are being examined,Â Chaudhary said.