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Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Peshawar reels from horror bombing

Riffatullah Orazkai
BBC Urdu, Peshawar

Scene of the blast in Peshawar, Pakistan
Smoke hung over the scene of the blast for a long time after the bombing

Witnesses to Wednesday's devastating bomb blast in Peshawar's People's Market say it was so powerful that the entire area was in darkness because of the smoke.

All that could be heard were the cries of women and children.

"I was going to buy some bread when it happened," Imdad, a wounded passer-by, told the BBC in Peshawar's Lady Reading hospital.

"It felt like doomsday had happened - there was darkness everywhere and the debris was flying through the air.

"Afterwards I was not in my senses - as I was carried out all I remember hearing were the wails of women and children."

He said the blast was so powerful that all vehicles near the site were destroyed and most were overturned.

Heart-rending

Another victim, Khalid, said: "I was near the scene where the blast took place.

"The intensity and noise of the explosion blocked my ears and I couldn't see anything close to me.

"Moments later I tried to get up and also help a man lying close to me, but I couldn't raise myself from the ground.

"I then felt great pain in my legs and saw blood flowing from them.

"My ears are still blocked [and all] I can hear is a buzz."

Scene of the blast in Peshawar

The scenes inside the emergency ward of Lady Reading were both horrific and heart-rending.

So great were the number of casualties that there was a shortage of beds, with many people being treated on the floor.

One unattended four-year-old boy's condition appeared to be particularly distressing.

His head and legs were covered with deep wounds.

Shah Faisal, the man who brought the boy to the hospital, said that when he arrived on the scene, flames were coming out of the shops in the market.

"I could see some people trapped inside... I saw this girl lying unconscious on the road outside and I brought her here.

"But no one has come to claim her so far," he said.

Other witnesses spoke of fires raging out of control as the emergency services struggled to reach the scene.

"The fires raged after the blast for quite a while before the authorities arrived on the scene," said Waheedullah, the head of the local market union where the blast took place.

"Many people could have been saved - but most of them had been burnt alive by the time help arrived."

According to him, the number of casualties would have been lower and many lives could have been saved if the authorities had acted more quickly.



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