DERA GHAZI KHAN: Three labourers, including two brothers, died of suffocation while cleaning sewerage lines in DG Khan on Friday.
Police said the deceased hailed from Faisalabad and died from toxic gases inhaled during a sudden flow of water within the sewerage line. The labourers used to work for a private company which had been contracted by the public health department. Reportedly, the workers did not carry the required safety tools.
In addition to area residents, DG Khan Commissioner Riaz Malik personally rushed to the site and oversaw the rescue operation. The chief minister of Punjab, while taking notice of the tragedy, announced Rs1 million as compensation for the families of each deceased worker.
Police said the incident took place near the Comprehensive High School within the limits of the B Division Police Station. At first, Muhammad Haider went inside the manhole and soon fell unconscious due to toxic gases. Later, his brother, Muhammad Ramzan, who was observing him from outside the manhole, also went in to rescue. However, he also drowned in the sewer water. Later, their cousin Muhammad Nadeem went down the manhole to find his relatives, but he also perished.
The rescue officers recovered the bodies of the three workers and shifted them to the DG Khan Teaching Hospital. Officials of B Division police station initiated an investigation into the incident. It was confirmed that two of the workers, Muhammad Rizwan and Muhammad Haider, were brothers and the third labourer Muhammad Nadeem was their cousin. They were residents of Chak No 92 in Faisalabad.
After an initial inquiry, the bodies of all three workers have been shifted to their homes in the presence of their supervisors. As per area residents, the labourers were not equipped with safety kits. On the other hand, DG Khan commissioner told The Express Tribune that the cleaning of public sewerage lines was contracted to a private company hired by the public health department.
An inquiry committee, comprising chief municipal officer Malik Iqbal Farid and the development director, has been formed to probe the incident and furnish an investigation report, said the commissioner. The committee will be headed by Additional Commissioner Revenue Samiullah Farooq, he added. Action will be taken against those responsible for the tragedy, he said.
Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has ordered the Faisalabad deputy commissioner to pay Rs1 million as compensation to the bereaved families. Following the instructions, the deputy commissioner has begun formalities for settlement of the compensation.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2019.