Terror, Shipwreck, Guns

March 21, 2017
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The impact of the explosion sent Muhammad Safdar flying backwards. He looked up from where he had landed and saw that the glass on his parked ambulance had shattered.

As he tried to pick himself back up, fellow ambulance drivers from the Edhi Foundation gathered around him; it looked as if Safdar was bleeding. But he had not suffered any external injuries. “Human flesh got stuck to me,” he recalls now, as we sit in the ambulance control centre in downtown Karachi. “My friends were checking me for injuries, but it was pieces of other people. I was trembling hard and I couldn’t hear my own voice when I spoke. It sounded juddering. I could only hear whistles.”

It was 5 February 2010 and Safdar had already dealt with the fallout of one explosion that day: an hour before, a motorbike laden with explosives had slammed into a bus carrying Shia Muslims to a religious procession. Safdar had raced to the scene to load the dead and injured into his ambulance and take them to nearby Jinnah Hospital. With more than 30 injured people and 12 dead, the emergency room was chaos, with people crying and screaming as doctors struggled to cope. He was still inside the hospital when the second bomb exploded just outside the entrance.

He did not realise until later that he had suffered head injuries. At the time, he followed his first instinct, which was to get up and continue to help. A further 13 people were dead, with scores more injured. “Everything was a mess, there was blood everywhere, the whole place was like that,” Safdar remembers.

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Image: © Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

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