Four employees of a local Urdu newspaper suffocated while sleeping in their office on Tuesday night, apparently due to buildup of smoke from a generator that was running through the night.
The victims, Daily Halat pagemakers Ghulam Rasool and Mohsin Ali, security guard Naveed, and driver Mehfoz, were found dead in their office on Benazir Bhutto Road (formerly Murree Road) in Shamasabad on Wednesday morning after the police were called in to open the locked door.
Zaffar Hussain Bukhari, a contributing columnist for the newspaper, was found unconscious in the three-room office on the fourth floor of Aries Towers. He is being treated at Benazir Bhutto Hospital.
Rescue 1122 personnel removed the bodies to the District Headquarter Hospital. All victims were between the ages of 28 and 45, police said.
Their employer held the federal government responsible for the unfortunate incident, saying that the government failed to follow a schedule for loadshedding.
“The incident is an indirect result of electricity loadshedding, as the staff had to resort to using a petrol-powered generator to complete their work,” said Daily Halat Chief Editor Muhammad Najabat Khan. He said the staff had to bank on the generator following unscheduled loadshedding, adding that due to human error, the generator was not switched off, leading to the three deaths.
Sadaqabad Police Station House Officer Inspector Karim Khan Niazi said postmortems would be carried out to determine the cause of death.
“The police investigation will cover all aspects and the situation will be clearer after Bukhari regains consciousness. He can tell us more about the circumstances under which they went to sleep,” the SHO said.
He added that the police have obtained CCTV footage of the time when electricity was available.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2012.