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Pakistan: 25 killed in factory building collapse

6th Nov 2015
Pakistan: 25 killed in factory building collapse
KARACHI, (AA, The News): Rescuers on Thursday pulled out over 100 laborers from under the rubble of a factory building that collapsed Wednesday, killing at least 25 people and injuring more than 50, officials said.

Victims had been trapped for at least 20 hours as huge mounds of debris and darkness slowed down the rescue operation.

So far, 19 bodies were recovered, while four others were detected under the debris of the four-storey polythene bag factory located approximately 30 kilometers from Lahore, the country’s cultural hub, Mohammad Usman, a senior city government official said.

It was unclear how many people were in the building when it collapsed or how many — dead or alive — may still be trapped. Officials have put the total number of those involved at around 150-200, with 108 so far pulled out alive.

Several survivors trapped in the rubble of the factory pleaded for help with rescue services on their mobile phones.

“Several trapped survivors have contacted us earlier from under the rubble. We are unable to contact them now because their mobile phone batteries may have died,” Brigadier (retd) Dr Arshad Zia, the director-general of the Rescue 1122 force, told Geo News.

Zia said that rescue workers were busy trying to clear the first floor of the building and that the search and rescue operation may continue for another day.

Having 702 industrial land plots spread over 1,179 acres, the Sundar Industrial Estate actually comprises of 1,750 acres of land located 45 kilometres from the centre of Lahore on the Sundar-Raiwind Road.

Pakistan has a poor safety record in the construction and maintenance of buildings.

At least 24 people died last year when a mosque collapsed in the same city, while more than 200 people lost their lives, mostly due to collapsed roofs, following torrential rain and flooding in 2014.

In 2012, at least 255 workers were killed when a fire tore through a clothing factory in Karachi, one of the deadliest industrial accidents in Pakistani history.

A judicial probe into the blaze was damning, pointing to a lack of emergency exits, poor safety training of workers, the packing in of machinery and the failure of government inspectors to spot any of these faults.

He said that soldiers and rescuers were carefully cutting through steel and using cranes to lift the debris of the building to rescue the survivors.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the roof collapse. However, there have been speculations that the incident was indirectly caused by last week’s 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hit both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan has a long history of industrial disasters, many of them due to safety violations.

Author: Aamir Latif
[Photo: Pakistani soldiers and rescuers search for victims in the rubble of a collapsed factory on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan on November 5, 2015. Photographer: Kaynak: Waseem Ali/AA]

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