Tragedy strikes


At least 13 persons, including seven women and five children, were killed and many others trapped under rubble when a 25-year-old three-storey pharmaceutical factory in the Hassan Town area on Multan Road collapsed on Monday after a boiler and gas cylinder explosion. Three houses situated adjacent to the aforesaid pharmaceutical factory were also razed to the ground. The three-storey building of Orient Labs (Pvt) Limited, a local pharmaceutical company that manufactured veterinary medicines, caved in due to a boiler and a gas cylinder explosion at the premises between 8:30 to 9am. Around 100 factory workers, mostly women and children, were buried under the debris. According to the duty roster 62 workers, including 45 males and 17 females, signed in at work for the morning shift whereas workers of night shift were also present in the factory.
After the explosion, rescue workers, including staffers of Rescue 1122, civil defence and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation of the Jamaatud Dawa rushed to the scene. Workers and volunteers used hammers, axes, chisels and shovels to shift the rubble and pull out those who were buried under the rubble.
Rescue workers continued digging till late night through the rubble, desperate to answer the cries of help from people trapped beneath concrete slabs as sobbing relatives urged rescuers to do everything possible to recover their loved ones. Hospital sources confirmed the death of 12 people and injuries to 13 others, as rescue workers turned on floodlights to carry out the recovery operation after dusk. Till late at night, nine persons, including seven females, were identified as Tanveer (12), Fouzia (24) and Salma (28), Nasreen Sardar, Ambreen Khalil, Asif Khalil, Marium Ashraf, Shakeela and Alisha while the remaining deceased persons were still to be identified. Nine of those who were injured were identified as Amin, Perveen, Mrs Akbar, Saqib, Kaleem, Nazia, Shumailam Shahida and Hassan.
An injured eight-year-old boy Asad said he was inside the building when the blast happened. “There were two other boys who started running after hearing the blast. I don’t know where they went and if they are alive or not,” Asad added. An injured girl pulled out of the rubble was too frightened to tell the reporters what she had seen.
Different officials estimated that there were between 35 and 50 people buried under the debris. Most of them were believed to be women and children, who were hired to pack the medicines.
Several heirs of the victims, who gathered around the location after hearing about the mishap, kept searching for their loved ones. One Jameel said he had reached the place to search for his four nieces, adding that one had died, two were injured, while one was still missing. A young girl, Shakila Iqrar, wept at the scene as she told reporters that her cousin and older sister were trapped under the huge slabs of concrete.
Mohammad Akram said he had rushed to the site shortly after 8am, 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,” he said. The main working hours were 8am to 5pm, 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. Rescue officials termed the incident a huge disaster. They added that it was too early to tell when they would be able to finish the operation. Rescue 1122 Director General Dr Rizwan Nazir said the search will continue throughout the night. “We are trying to recover maximum victims alive, which has slowed the rescue operation. We might be able to pull out the victims till the early hours of Tuesday but the removal of debris would continue for a day or two,” he said.
‘ILLEGAL’: Locals said the factory was operating in the residential area illegally.
Rana Amjad, a local, told the reporters that the factory was illegal and he had filed a petition in the court in 2005. He said the court dismissed his petition in 2007 after which he had stopped following the case. A 55-year-old housewife, asking not to be named, accused the government of not providing security to the locals. She said there were many illegal factories that were operating in residential areas. District Coordination Officer (DCO) Ahad Cheema told reporters that the factory was sealed thrice by the authorities and he could not say how it started working again. He said he had ordered a detailed enquiry into the incident and would reveal the details to the public once the report is revealed.
POLICE: Police officials raided the houses of factory owners Sheikh Zaheer and Sheikh Zafar but they managed to escape. They managed to arrest the factory’s timekeeper, Muneer, for interrogation.
Muneer revealed that there were 31 workers in the factory and the factory also manufactured medicines for humans, including Amoxicillin, Lignocaine, Augustitosin, Vitamin B-Complex and Dexamethasone. Sadar Division SP Shoaib Khurram told Pakistan Today that an FIR had been registered against three persons, including Sheikh Zaheer, Sheikh Zafar, Sheikh Zubair and other unidentified culprits under Section 302/324/427/147/149.
He said 12 people had died while 19 had sustained injuries, adding that two godowns of the factory had been sealed and some medicines had also been recovered and samples had been sent to laboratories for testing since some people had complained that the factory was manufacturing spurious drugs.
A small group of about 15 to 20 workers protested at the site, carrying the red flags of Pakistan’s Labour Party and shouting different slogans.
BLAME GAMES BEGIN: Several political leaders from PML-N, PPP and MQM reached the scene to express solidarity with the heirs of victims. PPP and PML-N ministers blamed Punjab government and the federation for the mishap and held each other responsible.
Compensation: In a late night development, the government announced to give Rs 500,000 to the relatives of those who had lost their lives while the injured would be given Rs 75,000. The Punjab government also formed a three-member committee to investigate the incident.


  1. Chef Justice of Pakistan should hold a judicial inquiry immediately &
    Chef Minister Punjab, Health Labour Ministers, Chef Sectary must resign.
    I regret to hear the collapse of a three-story medicine manufacturing factory building, illegally set up in a residential area on Monday in Lahore after a gas explosion, according to the emergency officials killing at least 5 labourers including one boned labour child. The deputy commissioner Mr.Ahmad Cheema said that 62 people, including women and children, inside the factory when it collapsed. Media reported that more than 150 people were working in the factory majority of them 10 to 15 bonded girl children. Authorities had previously closed the factory that manufactured medicine three times, but each time it reopened. Global March Against child labour Sweden & BLLF Global Sweden are very sad on this tragic incident and demand that Chef Justice of Pakistan should hold a judicial inquiry immediately, the responsible persons brought to justice. Chef Minister Punjab, Health Minister, Labour Minister, Chef Sectary, Health Sectary, Labour Sectary, and head of labour social welfare department should resign immediately. Due to loss of children and workers lives and they also not implemented laws of the land against bonded labour/child labour and violated ILO convention 183, U N children rights convention and Contusion of Pakistan.
    Ehsan Ullah Khan
    National Coordinator Sweden
    Chairperson FLLF Global

  2. In whose constituency was this 'factory' located.This may have been the 'factory', from where the Drugs that took so many lives in Lahore recently,originated.Is this a case to remove all evidence?

  3. What else we to prove that Shabaz Sharif is an inept Chief Minister.


  4. That also exposes the exploitation of child labor. Is it not toxic environment and think of a child exposed to all type of fumes and dusts.

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