KARACHI: A blaze erupted in a Suzuki Hi-roof van near Do-Minute Chowrangi late on Friday night, claiming at least eight lives and injuring three other members of the same family. As the burning vehicle veered off track, it also rammed into a rickshaw passing by the site of the incident.
As soon as the fire broke out, passers-by took immediate measures to try to contain the fire and rescue the persons travelling in the van. Of the 11 taken out of the van in injured condition, six, including four children, succumbed to their injuries while on the way to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. The injured brought to the healthcare facility were later shifted to the burns unit at Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital in critical condition. Two more of those wounded passed away during treatment on Saturday.
According to Additional Police Surgeon Dr Saleem, deputed at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, the injured sustained up to 80 per cent burn injuries. The injured children were shifted to National Institute of Child Health (NICH).
The deceased have been identified as Laiba, 12, Arman, 8, Mehrunnisa, 32, Muawiya, 9, Arsalan, 7, Sufyan, 4, Mujibur Rehman, 55, and Nilofar, 50. Meanwhile, the injured were identified as Jamal, Hifza and Nasir.
No injuries were sustained by the rickshaw driver, who was quick to jump out of the three-wheeler as soon as the crash took place. The rickshaw, however, was gutted in the fire along with the van. According to a notification issued by the Central District SSP, the entire van was destroyed except for a CNG cylinder installed inside it.
The injured and the deceased, who belonged to the families of two brothers, were residents of Taiser Town on their way to attend a wedding in Gulshan-e-Iqbal when the incident took place, the notification stated.
"The unfortunate incident has left the entire family traumatised," said Hassan Ali, a relative of the affected family while talking to The Express Tribune outside the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth, where the bodies of the six who passed away on Friday were shifted after the completion of medico-legal formalities early Saturday morning. Several relatives of the affected family had gathered outside the morgue to take the bodies after the funeral baths. "Some of us are here for the funeral bath[s] and some are at NICH with the [injured] children," said Ali.
Meanwhile, a bomb disposal squad ruled out the possibility of the fire erupting due to explosives. No trace of explosives were found from the van, the team declared. They suspected that a short-circuit could have ignited a spark which led to a fire breaking out, that was further intensified by CNG leakage and petrol cans kept inside the van.
In his statement given to police on Friday night, the affected rickshaw driver, Murad Baig, said that he was passing by the site of the incident when he saw a burning vehicle heading his way through his rickshaw's rearview mirror. He said that he had not even overcome the shock of such a sight when the van crashed into his rickshaw. However, he quickly jumped out of the rickshaw, which was instantly engulfed by the flames and gutted.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2020.
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