LAHORE: Six people, including a couple, their two sons, a minor girl student and a passerby were killed when a three-storey building collapsed in Chota Mufi Baqar near Masjid Wazir Khan at Delhi Gate on Saturday. Six passersby were also injured in the incident. Another minor was also trapped under the debris, but ultimately pulled out by rescue teams. It took more than seven hours for the operation to be completed.
The incident occurred at around 8.30 am when Ghulam Abbass, who worked as a video editor, was asleep on the ground floor of his house with Marium, his wife. Their three children Ali Zad, Zad-e-Haider and Sabih Hassan were also sleeping at the residence when the structure caved in, trapping the whole family, a minor student and another passerby under the debris.
Six passersby were also injured after being hit by construction material. Omar, a shopkeeper who ran a General Store a few yards away from the site, told The Express Tribune he was at work when a huge rumble occurred.
“I was shocked. When I looked around, there were clouds of dust everywhere and all one heard were screams,” he recalled. He and other locals rushed to the scene and witnessed a child screaming to be rescued. They called rescue teams who rushed to the scene and evacuated the boy, who was identified as Sabih Hassan, the son of Ghulam Abbass.
The team started rescue an operation, but faced great difficulty as the area was congested. Officials said the streets were narrow and rescue vehicles had to be parked some distance away from the site. The workers started removing the debris on donkey carts for disposal.
The victims were asleep on the ground floor of the three storey building so it was also difficult to locate them. Deputy Commissioner Lahore Sameer Ahmad said that they used the latest technology, such as a live locator, to spot the trapped victims. After three hours of rescue work, the teams recovered two children who were rushed to Mayo Hospital for treatment. However, Ali Zad and Zad-e-Haider, sons of Ghulam Abbass, were announced as dead on arrival. Four more hours were taken to recover the other five victims and the deceased among them were identified as Minaal, a school-going child, and Qadeer. They were residents of an area near the scene of the tragedy.
Relatives of the victims were overcome with grief at the site, while the incident spread panic in the locality where a huge number of people had gathered. Local body representatives, officers of the Walled City, Lahore DC Sameer Ahmad and City SP Ali Raza also made an appearance.
A heavy contingent of police was deployed, including officials of the Anti-Riot Force. DSPs and SHOs of the area remained at the scene to deal with any potential law and order situation. The building, which ultimately collapsed, was in a dilapidated state and this caused the mishap.
This is not the first time people fell victim to building or roof collapses in the Delhi Gate area of Old Lahore. In August 2016, five people of the same family were killed in a tragic turn of events. A wedding ceremony was planned on the day after the incident and the bride was among the victims.
The deceased were identified as Tafseela, 40, her daughter, Aqsa, 9, sister Dua, 35, Mehwish, 28, and Parveen. The injured were identified as three-month-old Haram, one-and-a-half-year-old Ayaan, Mahnoor, 3, Rehman, 4, Nabeela, 30 and Jameel, 45.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2018.