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January 6, 2019

Four kids suffer burns as van catches fire


January 6, 2019

Thirteen of the 14 children on their way to school in a hiroof van were injured when the vehicle caught fire in the Orangi Town neighbourhood on Saturday morning.

The van was en route to a madrasa-cum-school near Kati Pahari in North Nazimabad, but the vehicle caught fire near the Qatar Hospital in Orangi Town. Thirteen of the 14 kids were injured and taken to a nearby hospital.

Doctors said that nine of the children were sent home after they were given first aid, while the remaining four were admitted to the burns ward of the Dr Ruth KM Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi.

Of those, seven-year-old Ali Jan and nine-year-old Ibadul Haseeb are still in the hospital, while Eemaan Arif and Arif Junaid, both six years old, were later released after being treated, added the doctors.

The burning van had caused a crowd to gather on the spot. Some of them rescued the kids from the vehicle. Eyewitnesses said the van had got stuck in the mud after the driver picked up the last child from his home near the Qatar Hospital.

They said the driver and some of the students were trying to free the van when the fire suddenly erupted in the vehicle. Some witnesses claimed that the driver had managed to escape from the scene, leaving the children in the burning vehicle.

The people later informed the police and the fire brigade. The firefighters arrived on the scene and doused the blaze. The kids had already been rescued before the arrival of the fire tenders.

Police officials said that the driver had been identified as Abdul Rasheed and that he was in their custody. They said they were looking for a complainant to register a case. They claimed that the driver had helped rescue the children and burnt his hand in the process. An officer said that there was an extra seat installed in the van to accommodate more children, adding that an LPG cylinder was fitted in the front of the vehicle, right next to the driver’s seat, while a CNG cylinder was installed in the back of the van, but both the cylinders were intact.

Taking notice of the incident, Traffic DIG Javed Ali Maher suspended the Orangi Town traffic section officer for negligence and ordered an inquiry, as the presence of an LPG cylinder in a vehicle carrying kids is in clear violation of the charter issued by the transport department.

District West Traffic SSP Dr Najeeb Khan said the fire had apparently erupted due to a short circuit in the wiring, but the police were also trying to ascertain if gas had leaked from the LPG cylinder and caused the fire.

Sindh Education Minister Syed Sardar Shah has directed the education secretary to file a report. “Private schools must check the fitness of the vans their students use,” he said.

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