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Meeran Karim
Saturday, March 15, 2014
From Print Edition




FOUR workers were killed and 18 others injured when a gas cylinder exploded at a gas company’s factory in Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate on Friday.


The explosion at the cylinder gas refilling factory occurred at approximately 12noon when the factory workers were busy loading medical oxygen gas cylinders onto a truck. A gas cylinder at the factory’s filing station had leaked, causing four others to leak and explode, said one of the injured victims, Asif Ali.


As a result of the impact felt due to this cylindrical explosion, the workers flew from inside the gas cylinder truck and landed on the nearby footpath, said Ali.


Najeeb Alam, a 40-year-old worker from Green Town, stumbled on electricity wires, causing his stomach to split wide-open. His co-worker, Jameel, brought Alam’s lacerated body to Jinnah Hospital where he was pronounced dead.


All the bodies and the injured were shifted to Jinnah Hospital.


After the blast, the factory building is in a dilapidated state, with a collapsed roof, the glass doors of all offices shattered and the blood of the workers on the floors of the building. Some brick walls have also fallen. The broken electricity wires responsible for the death of Najeeb Alam were being repaired to prevent more possible deaths by lethal electric shocks.


Police cordoned off the area for collection of evidence. Rescue 1122 vehicles, Edhi ambulances and the city government vehicles reached the factory building for relief operation.


The Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate police said the factory owner, Chaudhry Ahmed Latif, was nowhere to be found.


Najeeb Alam’s father Muhammed Ramzan and brother Rahim rushed to the hospital soon after incident. Najeeb left behind three children and a wife.


Talking to The News, Rahim asked the Punjab government for financial assistance for his deceased brother’s family.


Eye-witnesses, including nearby factory labourer, recounted the terrifying incident, calling the sight of the bodies flying and landing on the ground ‘horrific.’ They recalled seeing exposed bones and the body parts of the workers.


According to sources, four Rescue 1122 vehicles, fire brigade and bomb disposal squads reached the spot approximately 15 minutes after the incident took place.


Others pronounced dead by doctors were: 30-year-old Bashir Ahmad from Kasur, 18-year-old Arshad from Kasur and 27-year-old Imran Younis.


The bodies have been shifted to morgue. Arshad’s parents came to Jinnah Hospital after knowing about their son’s death in the cylinder explosion. His mother collapsed on the hospital floor, unable to stand on her feet.


The families of the injured were waiting outside the accident and emergency department of the hospital. As the day proceeded, more families of the workers rushed to the hospital.


An injured worker, 35-year-old Asif Ali of Kahna Kacha, talked to The News. Ali was alongside the four deceased workers in the truck when the nearby cylinders exploded. Fortunately, Ali landed mostly unharmed on the platform and he had only minor injuries on his legs.


Next to him on a hospital bed, Zubaid Khan was almost fully plastered and his face was partially burnt.


The injured victims admitted to Jinnah Hospital included Umar, 25, Zahid Maqbool, 25, Sajjad Arshad, 30, M Afzal, 30, Zubair Khan, 35, Aziz Ullah, 50, Asif Ali, 35, Iqbal, 45, Shahbaz, 45, Arif Ibrahim, 48, M Ramazan, 38, Arshad, 35, Sajid, 27, Abdul Jabbar, 35, Umair, 26, Farooq, 35, Arsalan, 25 and Umer, 25.


According to the hospital staff, three of the injured were being operated upon and the rest sustained minor injuries with less than 20 per cent burns.


Update on Gas Cylinder Explosion




According to the DCO, a fact-finding committee has been constituted by him to probe the cylinder blast at the gas company.


The report is expected to be submitted within 24 hours. The members of the committee are ADCG Asfandyar Baloch, the Raiwind assistant commissioner, a representative of Rescue 1122, Environment DO, Civil Defense DO and the DSP concerned.