Shoddy construction: Four workers die, 14 injured in roof collapse

The roof of the unit they worked in was made of mud, straw and iron girders. The walls were not cemented

The dilapidated building after the roof collapse. PHOTO: ZAHOORUL HAQ/EXPRESS

LAHORE: Four people died and at least 14 were injured after the roof of a garments factory near Rohi drain collapsed on Friday.

Scores of workers at neighboring factories, Rescuce-1122 teams and a Nishtar Colony police team arrived at the scene.

They hauled out workers trapped under the debris and took them to a hospital for treatment.

Later, the administrator got into an argument with journalists covering the story.

The Jeans Company (Pvt) Ltd factory was housed in a two-storey building. A third ‘storey’ had been added later to make space to accommodate a grinding unit (raghrai). The roof was thatched with mud, straw and girders.

Akbar, a worker at the factory, said he had just returned from his Friday prayers when he heard an explosion from the upper most floor followed by screams.

Akbar said he dug up several colleagues using a grub hoe from the rubble.

Arsalan, another worker at the factory, said the incident had occurred around lunch break. He said the workers on the third floor were taking a nap. “Some of the men had left the room to have lunch or say their prayers… had they been around, the casualty count could have been greater.”

The roof, put together with straw and mud, would always leak in rainy weather, Ehtisham, another worker at the factory, said. “Instead of cementing its walls and building a proper roof, the factory administration kept piling on more mud…they had just put on more mud two days ago.”

The workers who died in the incident were Muhammad Ali, 30, Boota, 21, Tariq, 30, and Shahzad, 27. The men who were injured are Imran Akbar, Kashif, Muhammad Imran, Jamil, Faryad, Arshad, Bashir, Irfan, Zahid, Abid, Hanif, Raheel, Tanveer, Sabir and Mohsin.

Nistar Colony SHO Asif Zulfiqar said they had taken four members of the factory’s administration, including Chief Security Officer Maj (retd) Muhammad Iqbal, into custody. He said they were investigating the matter.

Rana Aqeel, owner of the factory, lives abroad.

No FIR had been registered till the filing of the report.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2015.


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