At least two people were killed and 11 others injured after a building in Lyari's Bihar Colony caved in on Sunday. This is the second such incident in the city this week as a building collapse on Thursday left at least four dead and many injured in Korangi.
Thirteen people were pulled out from under the rubble before the rescue operation ended on Sunday. They were shifted to Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital, where two of the injured succumbed to their injuries during the course of treatment.
The deceased were identified as Hayat, 40, and Jan Muhammad, 30, while those under treatment include Riaz, 18, Rabbani, 23, Dawood, 25, Samiullah, 25, Muhammad Khan, 25, Abdur Rehman, 30, Sher Khan, 45, and Habib, 45. The conditions of at least two of the injured are stated to be critical.
The deceased and injured were said to be labourers who hailed from Bajaur district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The Chakiwara Police has named four suspects in a case registered under Sections 322, 337, 427 and 288 read with 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code, pertaining to punishment for unintentional murder, mischief causing damage and negligent conduct with regards to buildings.
Ali Marjan, contractor Farooq Baloch, Ramzan, and building owner Muhammad Jan have been nominated in the FIR, according to Chakiwara SHO Ayub Soomro. Of the four suspects, the building's owner has been arrested by the police.
The owner of the collapsed house knew the structure was weak and that was why he rented it out to the labourers, claimed South deputy commissioner Irshad Sodhar, while speaking to the media.
"Legal action will be taken against the owner and an investigation of construction work on the plot will also be carried out," he said. "There will be legal consequences for the owner if there is no approved construction plan."
During the rescue operation, recently-appointed Karachi Commissioner Sohail Rajput said that all structures weakened in the aftermath of recent monsoon rains would be vacated after a survey, while all illegal construction would be halted and legal action taken against those involved.
All weakened structures would be identified in a list that shall be advertised once prepared, assured the commissioner.
Meanwhile, before his arrest, Muhammad Jan told The Express Tribune that there was a warehouse on the ground floor, while the labourers were living on the floor above it on rent.
According to the landlord, Baloch had been digging the ground in the plot next to the house using an excavator.
Area residents claimed the excavator driver, who was a minor, had hit the house with the shovel, causing the roof to cave in on the labourers. Baloch and the truck driver fled the site thereafter.
Faults and demolitions
Later, the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), upon inspection, seconded the residents' claims and stated that the digging had caused the house to cave in. The authority asked the relevant officials to book the plot owner and the truck driver for negligence.
The SBCA's report further stated that other buildings nearby were vacated as a precaution and would be demolished if its technical committee for dangerous buildings found them at risk.
According to DC Sodhar, the part of the house which did not collapse was also crumbling. "It will be demolished," he said, adding that roughly 10 to 12 weakened buildings had been demolished this month while others were vacated.
With regards to the building collapse in Allahwala Town earlier this week, Rajput said that the Korangi DC was inquiring about the builder and once identified, he would be charged. He added that those affected would be compensated through the builder or a system would be set up for provision of relief.
Authorities take notice
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took notice of the incident and demanded a detailed report, further directing Rajput to make arrangements for the treatment of the injured and to clear wreckage from the site.
Meanwhile, visiting the site, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Haleem Adil Sheikh claimed that such incidents kept occurring due to illegal construction allowed by the SBCA and the district administration. Accusing these officials of taking bribes, he said that investigations should be carried out by the National Accountability Bureau against those involved in china-cutting and illegal construction.