LAHORE: A day after the Defence Z-Block blast killed at least eight people and injured 39, life limped back to normal in the provincial capital. However, there is a sadness that fills the air.
The city’s hustle and bustle resumed as all shops and schools reopened. At the site of the incident, the teams of the city district government, municipal authority, Defence Housing Authority and police remained busy for the whole day, removing debris and collecting evidence. The area in front of the building where the blast took place was cordoned off by police to restrict entry of unauthorised people.
However, the building was a wreck due to the impact of the blast. It was provided support by pillars made of steel. The teams could not remove all the debris as the site was not declared ‘clear’ till the filing of the report.
Defence-A police described the incident as an ‘accident’ in their record under section 174 of Code of Criminal Procedure.
The dealers and experts of LPG gas cylinders ruled out the possibility that a cylinder blast could cause such a huge damage.
A senior member of LPG Distributors Association Pakistan, seeking anonymity, said the impact of the blast was different than that caused by a gas cylinder.
He said leakage of gas from commercial cylinders was unusual. However, there was possibility that the valves used in cylinders were made of substandard material.
He added when a LPG cylinder explodes, it has a horizontal impact and remains upto four to five feet of ground level as LPG was heavier than air. He believed if the blast was due to LPG cylinders, its impact would have been inward unlike the impact of the Defence blast.
An inspector of pressure devices like boilers, cylinders etc also questioned the governmental claims. “It is being claimed that four to five gas cylinders, each weighing 45 kilogrammes, were placed in the basement that makes it over 200 kilogrammes of LPG.” He added an explosion of over 200 kilogrammes would have been far more devastating and disastrous beyond our imagination.” Lahore General Hospital Medical Superintendent Ghulam Sabir told The Express Tribune that injuries of the blast victims were of three types. They include burn injuries as well as those caused by debris or shattered glasses.
When asked about injuries related to explosives, he said the injuries caused by them could not be determined during postmortem unless a wound was caused due to a gunshot.
Illegal trade goes on
LPG Distributors Association Pakistan Chairperson Irfan Khokhar expressed grief over the unfortunate incident. While pointing out the sale of substandard cylinders, he said it was highly unfortunate that such people were dealing in death.
“The negligence of the governmental institutions and greed of these people have claimed hundreds of lives.” He said substandard cylinders on roads, houses or commercial areas were potential live bombs.
Khokhar pointed out the severity and magnitude of illegal trade could be gauged from the fact that there were over 200 such dealers operating only in Gujranwala.
He maintained they had time and again written to the government and even sent the lists of manufacturers and dealers, but no action was taken.
Sharing documental interaction with the governmental institutions, he said they had requested authorities for amendment to the law to raise punishment for those who were involved in this trade.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2017.