Over 10 killed in Islamabad blast (Lead)

September 20th, 2008 - 9:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Sep 20 (IANS) Over 10 people were killed and about 20 injured, many seriously, in a powerful blast that rocked the Marriott Hotel in the highly-guarded area around the parliament building in the Pakistan capital Saturday. “We have received at least five dead bodies and about 20 injured with some of them in serious condition,” a paramedical officer told IANS from the Federal Services hospital.

Eyewitnesses and police feared that the number of casualties may rise.

The blast took place about four hours after President Asif Ali Zardari addressed a joint sitting of both houses of the parliament for the first time after assuming office.

The blast was so severe that its reverberations was heard in a 15 km area and many Islamabad residents thought an earthquake had occurred.

The windows of nearby buildings, including Pakistan Television, were shattered. An emergency was declared in Islamabad hospitals as they braced to receive the victims.

The police said the casualties may increase as the blast was so huge that it created a 10-foot deep crater at the entrance to the hotel.

Reports said a van loaded with explosives hit the outer wall of the hotel, which is located near many high security buildings including the Presidential Palace, Prime Minister House, Parliament and the Supreme Court.

A police official said that people were coming out of the hotel after an Iftar party when a van first tried to enter the hotel. Later when security personnel were searching the van, it hit the outer wall of the building.

The hotel was seen in flames.

“Yes there’s a huge fire in the hotel,” said an eyewitness who was present in the hotel.

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