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September 14, 2020

Two die, 10 injured in Karachi building collapse

Top Story

September 14, 2020

KARACHI: In the fifth major incident of building collapse in the city this year, two people lost their lives while 10 were injured when a double-storeyed residential building collapsed in Lyari’s Koyla Godam in Gulistan Colony on Sunday morning.

Serious questions are being raised at the performance of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) and the district administrations, which have repeatedly failed to demolish hazardous and illegal buildings constructed across the city. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Khurram Sherzaman said that the directors of SBCA flee the country immediately after retirement. “Earlier, a building used to collapse monthly but now weekly two buildings collapse in the city,” he said. DG SBCA Ashkar Dawar, as usual, didn’t respond to the repeated phone calls by The News.

Earlier, in February a ground-plus-five storeyed residential building constructed on 80-square-yard plot in Lyari’s Usmanabad developed cracks before tilting dangerously.

In March, a ground plus five-storeyed building, where another floor was being constructed, collapsed and triggered the collapse of two other neighboring buildings, resulting in the deaths of more than 20 people and leaving more than 14 injured. In June, a five-storeyed residential building located in Lyari’s Kalri area collapsed, killing more than 22 people. A four-storeyed residential building in Allahwala Town in District Korangi collapsed last Thursday, killing four people. Apart from these, several minor building collapses have also been reported.

Due to narrow streets, rescue teams found it difficult to reach the site of the incident on Sunday morning. The bodies and injured people were shifted to hospital. Teams of Rangers, police and the District South’s administration reached the site and initiated the rescue operation. Heavy machinery was also called in, in order to carry out the rescue work. Another building adjacent to the collapsed one was also evacuated as it developed cracks.

Governor Sindh Imran Ismail and Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah also took notice of the incident and sought report. The SBCA in its statement said an excavator was being used for construction near the collapsed building which had hit it.

The SBCA’s dangerous buildings director, Beenish Shabbir, told The News that after the excavator hit the building’s wall, it collapsed. “It wasn’t an RCC building, but a very rickety structure over a 600 square yard plot in katchi abadi,” he said adding that a portion of the building collapsed, while the other half was also demolished as it lost its strength.

When asked if it was already declared hazardous, he denied it and said that it was a very old construction. The SBCA teams, he said, reached the site immediately after the collapse and carried out the inspection work. The SBCA also said that a case will be registered against the owner of the building, under-construction house and the excavator driver.

According to further details shared by the SBCA, on the ground-floor of the building, there was an illegal warehouse and at the first-floor workers of that warehouse used to reside. There was deep excavation being carried out in a plot adjacent to the collapsed building, also due to which the foundation of the building weakened and it collapsed. The SBCA and the district administration, however, didn’t respond why it failed to take action against the illegal warehouse and allowed deep excavation adjacent to the collapsed building.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Karachi, Sohail Rajput, visited the site of the incident. He said that 468 buildings in the city had been declared hazardous, while the residents have also been issued notices. He has directed the SBCA to take action against dangerous buildings on immediate basis, so that such incidents don’t take place in future and loss of human lives can be averted.

Administrator Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), Iftikhar Ali Shallwani on Sunday said that more than 400 buildings are in deplorable condition in the city and notices were already issued to the inhabitants for evacuating the same.

While reviewing the rescue work in Lyari, he also appealed to the citizens to cooperate with the authorities and vacate the buildings declared dangerous. Shallwani stated it was very sad that the people are dying in such incidents.

According to a press statement from KMC, he said that strict action would be taken against responsible for the loss of human lives. "FIRs have been lodged against the responsible persons of previous collapses of buildings," he added.

The administrator was of the view that heavy rains have also damaged many old buildings in the city. "Different departments are conducting survey and compiling survey of such buildings," he added. Shallwani appealed to the residents of buildings declared dangerous to vacate the same for the sake of their lives. He also directed rescuers to complete the work at the earliest in supervision of deputy commissioner South. He also asked concerned officials of KMC to remain on site of the incident till completion of the rescue work. Shallwani said that a building that collapsed in Korangi the other day was built without the approval of the SBCA, adding that the building of Lyari had also been established without the map approved by the SBCA. The administrator said that three to four storeyed buildings on narrow plots are extremely dangerous.

"The loss of human lives in building collapses is irreparable," he said. According to the list of hazardous buildings shared by the SBCA, the most number of such structures are in Saddar Town-I, 203 buildings, while in Saddar Town-II there are 89 dangerous buildings. In Keamari Town, there are seven, in Lyari there are 67, in Malir six, Shah Faisal five, in Liaquatabad 51, in Gulshan Town-I six, in Gulshan Town-II one, in Korangi two, in Baldia four, in Landhi two, in Gulberg 10, in North Nazimabad five, in Site nine, in Orangi one building is hazardous.