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Why is this famous Pakistani city stinking?

The Met department solves the mystery

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Gulf News

Dubai: The residents of Karachi, Pakistan took to Twitter on Tuesday night to ask one question: “What is that smell?” People around the metropolitan city noticed a fishy smell in the air and weren’t sure where it was coming from.

Tweep @AnumAft: “What’s up with this absolutely rancid smell emanating from #Karachi?”

Twitter user @ActonCats posted a picture of a cat with the caption: “#Karachi - what is that smell? Poor Jack got blamed last night but the stench is everywhere! Here he is, acting all innocent (which, of course, he was).”

@toobabaa tweeted: “This smell is all over Karachi and I thought a rat had died in my house.”

Tweep @Stallion_Soul added: “Not sure what is the cause of it, but the entire Karachi has got this mysterious and weird smell in the air right now. This happened last year as well and no one was able to figure out the cause of it. #Karachi #MysteriousSmell”

That last tweet is partially true. Yes, there was a similar stench last year, too. However, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) had at the time revealed that it was “due to Easterly wind shift; the Somalian currents are very strong over Arabian Sea... the shift have reached towards upper air levels hence the weird sea like smell.”

This year, the met department has stated a similar reason. An official statement provided to Pakistani media stated: “The following phenomenon is related to unusual prevailing weather conditions due to a high-pressure ridge present over coastal areas, dust and dander present over lower atmosphere and especially sea breeze cut off as well as high rate of evaporation due to cyclonic circulation is sending pulses of rotten fish like the smell from the deep sea horizon.”

According to their official statement, the situation is expected to normalise by tomorrow night.

However, the World Wide Fund (WWF) Pakistan has a different explanation for the stench. They credit it to the rotting of a small phytoplankton plant that washes ashore at the end of the monsoon season.

In an interview with The Express Tribune, a Pakistan-based English newspaper, WWF-Pakistan adviser Mohammad Moazzam Khan said: “Noctiluca Scintillans also known as Sea Sparkle – part of phytoplankton group – comes to the shore and dies. When they rot onshore, it emits a foul smell for few hours, which may even last for a couple of days.”

Are you in Karachi? Share your experiences with us at readers@gulfnews.com.

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