A deadly explosion on a bus carrying dozens of construction workers sent the vehicle falling into a ravine, leaving 13 people dead.
On July 14, a bus traveling through northwest Pakistan exploded due to a supposed gas leak, killing 13 people including nine Chinese nationals. The death toll was originally reported to be 12 people, but the number rose to 13 after a critically injured Chinese worker died of his injuries at a hospital. At least 36 people were also injured in the incident.
According to a statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, the Chinese workers and the accompanying Pakistani staff were headed to their workplace when the explosion occurred. Chinese engineers and construction workers are in the process of helping Pakistan build a dam in Kohistan.
The bus “plunged into a ravine after a mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas that caused a blast… Further investigations are underway,” the statement said.
“The Government and people of Pakistan extend sincere condolences to the families of Chinese and Pakistani workers who lost their lives in the incident,” the statement continued. “We also pray for quick recovery of the injured.”
While Pakistani officials have concluded that the explosion was an accident, officials at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad are claiming the bus was attacked.
In a statement, the Chinese Embassy called the incident an “attack.”
“Recently, our workers at a business on a certain project in Pakistan were attacked and have suffered deaths and injuries,” the statement said. “We have notified Chinese citizens in Pakistan to avoid venturing outside unless required by work or business and pay especial care to their safety.”
At a daily news briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China was “shocked by and condemns the bomb attack in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.”
“We mourn over the Chinese and Pakistani personnel killed in the attack and express sympathies to bereaved families and the wounded,” Zhao said.
“We have demanded the Pakistani side 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,” he added.
According to reporting from ABC News, “Road accidents are common in Pakistan, where motorists largely disregard traffic rules and safety standards and drive on damaged roads, particularly in the mountainous terrain in the north.”