The air was thick with smoke. Water flooded the area in front of the cold storage at the Jinnah International Airport’s cargo terminal on Monday night. A crowd stood outside waiting for someone to tell them what was happening to their loved ones who were stranded inside the storage facility.
“Will you be able to rescue my son if I share all his details with you?” said an angry father as he protested. “Everyone [the media] just wants to take photos of the sorrow of others.”
The area in front of Gerry’s D’nata at the airport was crowded. It was believed that at least seven employees of a cargo company were trapped inside. The families, and some officials, however, seemed unsure about the presence of the men. They believed that there was a possibility their loved ones were taken away by the Airport Security Force or the police. But they were wrong. Several hours after the operation was started, the men were found dead. Some officials and many members of the rescue teams thought it would be nothing less than a miracle if they were found alive as the intensity of heat before entering the cold storage facility was unbearable.
Many ambulances, fire tenders, DSNGs of different television channels and other official vehicles were parked outside the facility. Several reporters and anchors were anxious for news and kept giving constant updates about the rescue operation.
A few volunteers brought plates of biryani and bottles of water and started distributing among the people present. Some people gathered around the entrance and kept reciting verses from the Holy Quran and prayed for the safe recovery of the men inside. “I was watching television and the reporters kept saying that there was a shortage of water,” said Noman, a volunteer from Shah Faisal Colony. “We should all contribute and help and support each other.”
A woman kept asking if someone could tell her if her son was alive. “Why are we not being informed about what is happening,” she said as she hugged her young son. “Ama, bhai will be fine. Please don’t cry,” said the young boy.
Rizwan and Rizwana from Garden asked the volunteers of the PIA Boys Scout Association where the men were trapped. “Let me go there,” he insisted. “You can’t move, please keep away from this line,” the boy instructed. SM Khalid, the cousin of one of the men trapped inside, claimed that his cousin was in contact with the family till 4am. “Afterwards, the mobile phone was still switched on but he was not answering.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2014.