Nine killed, 50 trapped in Pakistan factory collapse
LAHORE SEVEN women and two children were killed, with dozens of others trapped under rubble when a factory collapsed in Pakistan’s city of Lahore on Monday, officials said.
The three-storey building used to manufacture veterinary medicines came crashing down, probably the result of a boiler and a gas cylinder explosion at the premises in the congested Multan Road area, police said.
Rescue workers dug through the rubble with bare hands, desperate to answer trembling cries for help from people trapped beneath concrete slabs as sobbing relatives urged rescuers to do everything possible to recover their loved ones.
Police said the Orient Labs (Private) Limited factory was illegal as it was without the proper registration, and they were hunting down its three partners.
The accident at the 25-yearold factory will likely highlight poor safety procedures among Pakistani manufacturers and, with a 12-year-old boy among the dead, the use of child labour.
“Three bodies have been pulled out. Two are women and one a child. There are two other bodies of women still under the rubble,” senior police official Ghulam Mehmood Dogar told AFP at the site.
Rescue workers later emerged with one of the bodies wrapped in a white sheet, and later with another body, that of a 14-year-old boy, which was put in a waiting ambulance and driven to hospital, an AFP correspondent said. Police had also reported the death, earlier, of a 12-year-old boy.
“Eighteen people have been accounted for and 45 to 50 are still feared to be buried under the rubble,” Dogar said.
An AFP photographer said he saw the hand of a motionless woman lying under the rubble. Rescue worker Mohammad Asif also put the death toll at five, saying one boy and four women had been killed.
“The workers were mostly women and children who were engaged in packing up the medicines,” Asif told AFP.
Mohammad Akram, 50, said he ran to the site shortly after 8:00 am (0300 GMT), desperately worried about his 10- year-old son, Asad, a packer.
“I came here rushing and weeping but luckily my son has been rescued. He is injured and alive. But my 12-year old nephew is still missing.” The main working hours were 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, but employees were quite often required to work late into the night as well, Akram said.
The rescue effort was hampered by narrow lanes and it took time for heavy cranes and excavators to reach the area.
“It’s a big disaster. It is too early to say when we’ll finish.
We want to recover alive as many people as possible,” said rescue worker Ahmed Raza.