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October 19, 2020

Six booked for manslaughter over factory workers’ suffocation

Karachi

October 19, 2020

A day after six workers suffocated while trying to clean a chemical tank of a garment company’s factory near Naurus Chowrangi in the SITE Industrial Area, police have registered a manslaughter case against six suspects.

The FIR was registered at the SITE police station on Sunday on the complaint of Wasim, brother of one of the victims. The nominated suspects include the factory’s general manager Tahir, administration manager Haris, security supervisor and a contractor. No arrest was made until the filing of this report.

On Saturday, after receiving information that some workers were trapped in a chemical tank, police and rescue workers from different welfare organisations arrived at the factory and took the six victims to a nearby private hospital, where doctors pronounced them dead on arrival.

Their bodies were later taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where a medico-legal officer examined them and confirmed that the six workers had suffocated. Police said that the tank of the garment factory was full of chemicals and the workers had been trying to clean it when they lost consciousness.

They added that according to their preliminary investigation, the six workers had suffocated due to a poisonous gas because the tank contained a chemical substance. Officials said that the tank was approximately 50 feet deep and it was half filled with chemicals, adding that one worker had initially climbed down the tank to clean it, but he fell unconscious there.

They said that according to their investigation so far, one of the workers had apparently fallen into the tank and then the others followed him while trying to save him. They added that they are conducting further investigation to confirm how the unfortunate incident occurred.

Police said the were identified as Ramesh, Boora, Ghairdari, Kashan, Naseeb and Shoaib, adding that the incident had occurred in the wee hours but it was brought to their families’ notice after they reached the factory to inquire why they had not returned home all night.

Their families also held a protest and blamed the factory management for the incident. They said that a case should be registered against the factory administration, whose negligence had caused six deaths.

They also said that machines are now available for cleaning chemical tanks because of the presence of poisonous gases, but factory owners use their workers for the purpose to save money.

They demanded that the government ensure an efficient labour inspection mechanism to address the problem of poor occupational safety & health conditions in the industrial sector.

SHO Ayaz Khan said that the statements of the factory’s owner and management as well as witnesses are being recorded, adding that a case would be registered if any criminal element is found or if the families of the victims ask the police to register a case.

This is not the first such incident to have occurred in Karachi. Several workers have lost their lives in similar incidents. On December 4, 2015, the owner and seven workers of a pickle factory in Korangi’s Darul Islam Society had suffocated after falling in a chemical tank.

On November 20, 2015, three workers of an oil company in the Bin Qasim area had suffocated while cleaning a tank. On May 15, 2016, five workers had suffocated at a factory in the Korangi Industrial Area.