Work hazards: Three workers killed in boiler explosion

Neighbours say factory management had not taken measures for workers’ safety


Photo Abid Nawaz/our Correspondent September 17, 2016
The bakery plant following the fatal blast. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

LAHORE: Three teenage workers were killed and two people were injured in a boiler explosion at a bakery production unit in Shahpur Kanjran, Chuhng, on Saturday.

The explosion took place at the Cakes and Bakes plant at 6:20am. A Rescue official said that workers were boiling milk at the production unit when the boiler exploded. The explosion was so intense that roof of the production unit caved in. The milk container also exploded, causing extreme burns to three workers.

Four emergency teams sent to the scene rescued the workers trapped under the debris and took them to a nearby hospital. Doctors said that three factory workers -- Khizar (18), son of Abdul Ghafoor; Waqar Hussain (18), son of Mansha and Safdar (18), son of Abdul Reman – had died before they reached the hospital. They were residents of Chak 81-D, Pakpattan, and were first cousins. The injured were identified as Haji Mehmoodul Hassan (60), son of Muhammad Sadiq and Faisal, son of Muhammad Ali.

Some residents of the area took the boiler explosion as a bomb blast and called police. A heavy contingent of police was sent to the scene and cordoned off the area. Punjab Forensic Science Agency experts were called to collect forensic evidence and record statements of witnesses.

Neighbours and workers’ relatives gathered outside the factory in larger numbers after the incident. They said the factory management had not taken appropriate measures for workers’ safety. The factory management had ordered closure of the gates after the blast, said Abdullah, relative of a worker.

A police official at the explosion scene said the industrial unit was working in a building, which was not purpose-built. Hundreds of gas cylinders were also found in the factory courtyard in violation of the safety code, he said.

The injured were later stated to be in a stable condition. Police had not registered a case until Saturday evening. Police said they had not received any complaint about the incident so far.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the incident and sought a report from the district administration. He also ordered an inquiry into the incident and action against those responsible for it. He said the injured should be provided the best treatment facilities. He offered condolences to the families of the workers who were killed in the explosion.

On May 24, seven people working on the metro train project in the city were killed in a wall collapse incident. On November 8, 2015, five workers were burnt alive when an oil tanker exploded in Hadiara. At least 45 workers were killed and 100 injured when the roof of a three-storey industrial unit caved in at the Sunder Industrial Estate in November 2015. Four workers were killed and 14 injured when the roof of a garments factory collapsed in Kahna in September 2015.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2016.

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