At least five killed in transformer blast

18 others injured in second HESCO-related explosion in two months


Z Ali July 24, 2021

HYDERABAD:

Occurring as a successive reminder of the dangerously fragile and hazardous transmission system of Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO), a blast in a pole-mounted transformer (PMT) in Hyderabad on Thursday claimed five lives.

Some 18 other persons were injured with fatal burn wounds in the explosion, which was accompanied by the spilling of hot oil from the transformer.

The incident occurred in Latifabad Unit 8 in near Akbari ground.

The injured patients were shifted to the burns ward at Liaquat University Hospital in Hyderabad. However, due to the dearth of facilities, 17 of the injured persons were referred to Karachi.

As of Friday at least five of the injured persons had succumbed to their wombs. The deceased, identified as Shujaat, 33, Tabish, 35, Waqas, 33, Noman, 28, Sajjad Qureshi, 45, were shifted to Hyderabad in the afternoon and their funeral prayers, attended by thousands of people, were offered at the Akbari ground.

Frequent faults Faults in the PMTs of HESCO are commonplace mainly, as claimed by the company, due to overloading - the linking of a higher number of power supply connections than the PMTs capacity.

In a similar blast in a PMT on June 18 near Islamabad chowk area in Hyderabad, three persons lost their lives. The company claimed to have conducted an inquiry of the June 18 incident but neither HESCO CEO Rehan Hameed nor the company's spokesperson, Sadiq Kubar, responded when asked about the findings of that inquiry.

Inquiry opened

Meanwhile, an FIR was lodged at the A-Section Police Station nominating five HESCO employees of HESCO, who were also injured in the incident on Thursday.

The case was lodged under Sections 322 and 427 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The nominated persons include Suhail Rizvi, Ismail, Ibrahim, Faisal and Saleem.

Moreover, Hyderabad SSP Abdul Salam Shaikh has constituted an inquiry committee, headed by Headquarters SP, to probe the matter.

HESCO has also formed a four-member committee with its general manager of operations, Abdul Ahad, as its head. The members have been given one day to submit their reports. In a statement on Thursday the HESCO spokesperson cited the overloading of power connections on that 200 KV PMT as the cause of the explosion.

"The HESCO staff was also present there. As soon as they attached jumpers and put load on the PMT a sudden flash occurred and it caught fire and began to spill hot oil," he said.

The HESCO board of directors has announced Rs700,000 compensation for the deceased and Rs500,000 for those critically injured.

Negligence condemned

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference at the Hyderabad Press Club on Friday, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) deputy convener Kunwar Naveed Jamil fixed blame on HESCO.

"We condemn this incident, which has claimed invaluable lives due to negligence and recklessness of HESCO," he said.

"We also condemn the role of HESCO's authorities in these matters."

He added that Thursday's explosion was not the first such occurrence that had claimed innocent lives. "It's so sad that HESCO lacks a workshop for repair of the PMTs and the private persons charge money to repair the transformers."

He warned that the people may begin to take law in their hands if the HESCO does not mend its ways. Jamil also deplored that despite the tall claims of the Sindh government for upgrading the public sector health services in the province, Liaquat University Hospital Hyderabad's burns ward is ill-equipped to deal with critical patients of burns injuries.

"Even proper ambulances weren't available to shift patients to Karachi."

The MQM-P leader said his party will take this issue to the court in addition to raising voice in the national and provincial assemblies and in the Senate.

He demanded that HESCO should pay compensation to the deceased and injured at par with what it paid to its own employees after such incidents and asked the federal government to conduct a third-party audit of the company's financial management during the last decade.

He also asked Federal Energy minister Hamad Azhar to immediately visit Hyderabad and constitute a high level inquiry committee, which should be tasked to submit its report within 15 days.

The leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party including its chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the Pak Sarzameen Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and other parties have also condemned the incident.

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