A bomb blast near the Pakistani city of Karachi has killed at least 15 people and injured 18 others, police say.
The incident took place near East Chowk in Shershah area of the city on Saturday, according to local media reports.
Police official Zafar Ali Shah told Dawn.com that the blast took place in a drain running under a private bank building. The bank was given a notice to vacate the premises so that the drain could be cleaned.
He added that the blast damaged the bank building as well as a nearby petrol pump.
The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a crowd of 2,000 people, according to the official.
A senior police official, Sarfaraz Newaz, was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency that the blast took place under a branch of Habib Bank. He said that the bank building has been constructed on the drain. He also cited a gas leak as a possible cause of the explosion.
“Our explosives team is working to determine the type of explosion, but the structure is built on a drain and there could be potential gas leaks,” he said.
Habib Bank said in a statement on Twitter that an explosion had damaged a branch of their bank and caused casualties.
The blast ripped through the floor of the bank, located at the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate, television footage showed, Reuters reported.
According to Dawn, media footage showed a damaged building and debris lying around. Several damaged vehicles were also seen at the site of the blast.
Karachi administrator Murtaza Wahab said in a tweet that “15 people have been killed so far and 18 injured have been admitted to hospitals.”
Several people were trapped under the rubble, with people trying to reach them to remove the rubble.