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No govt support as death toll in gas explosion reaches nine


May 21, 2019

PESHAWAR: No government official has bothered to visit the poor locality in the suburban Peshawar as death toll in a gas explosion at a tandoor in Dir Colony reached 9.

Locals told The News that nine people, mostly children from Gharibabad and Ghafoorabad areas, have lost battle for life after they sustained burn injuries in a gas explosion on May 6. Three of a family Nawab Khan, 60, his grandson Mohammad Nisar, 11, and granddaughter Sakeena, 4, were among those who died after sustaining burn injuries.

The locals said that at least six others including Khadija, 8, Bilal, 12, Bisma, 7, Irfan, 14 and Haseena, 11, are among those who have lost battle for life at the hospital after they were wounded in the blast.

At least 22 people, including children, sustained burn injuries in an explosion at a tandoor in Gharibabad locality near Dir Colony on the Ring Road on May 6. Majority of the people in the locality are labourers living in small rented houses. The people had gathered to buy roti for Iftar on the first day of Ramazan when the gas cylinder in the shop went off. Fire ensued and those close to tandoor sustained critical injuries.

"Not a single person from the federal or provincial government, district administration, local MNA or MPA or anyone else has visited the area in this troubled time when everyone here is in grief. Some people of the area are still fighting for life at the hospital while almost every alternate day we receive a tragic news of another loved one or neighbour losing battle for life," a visibly shaken Lal Mohammad, a labourer in his early 40s, told The News.

Lal Mohammad's father Nawab Khan died from burn injuries a couple of days back after the explosion. His niece Sakeena expired a few days later. "My son Mohammad Nisar lost battle for life at the Burns Centre in Hayatabad four days ago. We have been mourning the death of our loved ones since first day of Ramazan," he added.

The entire area is in shock after the incident. "You can imagine our pain that I could not attend the funeral of my father as I was taking my son from one place to another as he was fighting for life," the poor labourer said.

According to Lal Mohammad, two other men of his street also lost lives in the last few days after they were critically burnt in the fire. He said some people from other streets injured in the blast were also in critical condition at hospital. He said the administration and others only came to hospital when the media teams were there and then disappeared.

"The chief minister, ministers and others go to every house after explosion, any major incident and even road accidents. But since the people of the area are the poorest, no-one bothered to share our grief or announce any compensation from the federal or provincial government to the poor families of the victims," Lal Mohammad complained.

He added that he had to arrange medicine and many things on his own as government didn't provide it at the hospital. Besides, the people of the area had collected donations to provide ration to the local families as the breadwinners were in mourning.

"The government must announce compensation for the families of people who have lost lives and provide better treatment to those who are still at the hospital," Sajjad Ahmad, president of the local Islahi Committee, said.

He said no one from the government has visited the poor people. Even the elected MNA and MPA, who are living nearby, did not bother to visit us, he added.

Another local said two of his nieces died in the incident. "Everyone arranged medicines and other things from their own pocket. Majority of the families are very poor but they could not get any support from the government, which claims to be providing relief to the common man," said another local.

The government has recently taken up the issue of frequent explosions due to gas cylinders in the city and other parts of the country. However, there is no mechanism to keep a check on the use of old and substandard gas cylinders in cars, shops and even at homes.

A larger number of people have lost lives in different parts of the country due to explosion and fire by the gas cylinders all over the country.