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DERA GHAZI KHAN: Five devotees died and 13 others left seriously injured when the tractor-trolley they were traveling by to reach the shrine of a saint plunged into a ditch in the hilly area near DG Cement Factory.

According to Rescue 1122 sources, as many as 34 devotees, including women and children, were going to visit the shrine of Zinda Pir by a tractor-trolley when it plunged into a ditch.

As a result, five of them, identified as Sehrish Bibi (20), Rehmat Bibi (55), Sajid, five-year-old Bakhtawar and Gull Zarina, wife of Manzoor, died on the spot.

The Rescue 1122 staff shifted the bodies and 13 “seriously injured” persons to the trauma centre of the Ghazi Khan Medicle College Teaching Hospital. An ambulance of the cement factory also took part in the rescue operation. Deputy Commissioner Mian Mazhar Iqbal Mahar also reached the spot to supervise the operation.

Earlier, in 2001, more then 50 devotees of Zinda Pir, including children and women, had died when a tractor-trolley was swept away by a hill torrent in the same area.

There is no proper road to approach the shrine located in the hilly tribal area of Tuman Lound.

Despite the loss of 50 lives in the 2001 accident, neither the Punjab government, nor the district authority bothered to build a road for the area people.

The DG Cement Factory, which as per rules was bound to spend five per cent of its earnings on the welfare of the locals, also provided no funds for the construction of a road to the shrine that is annually visited by thousands of devotees.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019