ABBOTABAD: Young girls on Wednesday recounted the fear and panic they felt after a fire erupted in their Abbottabad hostel.
“We heard a blast and soon the room filled up with flames and smoke,” cried Javeria Bibi, one of the students at the hostel.
As many as 32 students were injured, including six critically, when a fire erupted in a dorm room of the Government Girls Post Graduate College No 2 Abbottabad on Tuesday evening.
Javeria, told the media on Wednesday that her roommate, fourth year student Rehana, was ironing clothes on the ground floor of the two-storey building at around 7pm in the evening when a short circuit caused sparks to fly, starting a fire in the room.
The flames quickly engulfed the room before spreading to two adjoining rooms.
Nighat Bibi, a third year student at the hostel, recounted that soon after the fire broke out, the power to the building failed, plunging them into darkness.
As the heat of the fire spread, smoke and screams of girls filled the air. Panic gripped the nearly 200 students in the dormitory.
Many tried to rush out of the building causing a mini-stampede.
Nighat said that they had to grope their way around in the dark while trying to find the exit. “Girls walked into each other and collided against the walls while they desperately tried to find the exit,” she added.
But not everyone made it out safely, some were injured while trying to escape the fire while others trapped in the burning building, fainted after inhaling too much smoke.
College sources said that as many as 30 students had fainted or suffered minor injuries in their attempts to escape. Rescue 1122 sources, however, said they had shifted 32 students to the Ayub Teaching Hospital for treatment.
Sources at the ATH, however, said only 17 girls were brought to the hospital including Rehana Bibi, Javeria Bibi, Munaza Mustafa, Aisha, Maria Bibi, Nighat Bibi, Iqra, Amina Bibi, Ammara Bibi, Sara Gul, Sania Riaz, Laraib Shah, Irum Bibi, Aisha Munsif, Humaira, Sadaf and Javeria Shah.
Of these, all but Rehana have been discharged after treatment.
Dr Salma, a medical officer at the ATH, told The Express Tribune that only one girl was currently under treatment at the hospital. The girl, Rehana, had been admitted into the burns ward after she had suffered 65 per cent burns on her body.
While the college’s principal was not available to answer questions from the media, the college administration in a statement confirmed that the fire erupted due to a short circuit and that the girl who was ironing clothes had been injured.
A lecturer at the college, who wished not to be named, told The Express Tribune that an enquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the short circuit.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2016.