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28 Oct 2009 14:19
As the wounded tried to flee, they were engulfed in flames and buried alive by falling masonry.
With one deafening boom, a congested Pakistan street full of women and children was transformed into hell.
“It was like a massive earthquake. Everything in my shop fell on me.
There was so much smoke.
Rescue workers fished out charred bodies from the debris where a woman was buried in the rubble near a mosque, three buildings and five cars that were destroyed in scenes of armageddon, an Agence France-Presse reporter said.
Bodies were trapped under huge slabs of concrete and crumbling bricks, the slow rescue heavily constrained by the collapsed buildings, pushing the death toll ever higher as cranes were mobilised to pluck survivors to safety.
The smouldering wreckage was devastating testament to a routine shopping trip or a pleasurable day out turned into bloody carnage for scores of ordinary families in the historic city of Peshawar.
“I saw a flash of blue and white light and I was thrown to the other side of the street. I’m surprised I’m alive,” said Shahid Khan (15) who was standing with a popcorn cart on the side of the road when the bomb went off.
“My entire shop fell on me. Smoke filled my face,” said Raza Ali (30) a grocery store owner whose face was badly burnt.
Crowds ran screaming down alleys in the market place, desperate to get away from the congested Meena market, fearing that a second bomb could explode. Others lifted out the casualties, their clothes splattered with blood.
“I was inside my shop. All of a sudden, there was a huge blast. It was dark everywhere. The roof of my shop fell on me, trapping me in the debris. Then I don’t know what happened,” said another survivor in hospital.
Television footage showed harrowing images. A young man was seen biting his fingers in disgust watching his shop and livelihood go up in flames.
Another person in the crowd repeatedly shouted out name of a loved one, his panic rising with the passing silence. Some were seen rushing out with bundles of their belongings loaded on their backs.
The agony of loss was overwhelming at the hospital, where survivors wept over dead loved ones, crying into cellphones, with staff struggling to cope with each new consignment of casualties as a state of emergency was declared. - AFP
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