5 children, 1 woman die as wall collapses at Gujranwala school

Published March 23, 2019
Rescue officials clear debris at the site of the accident. — Photo by author
Rescue officials clear debris at the site of the accident. — Photo by author

Five children and a woman were killed in Gujranwala on Saturday when a wall inside a school collapsed during the twin Pakistan Day celebrations and a scheduled academic ceremony, rescue officials said.

The incident took place at a private school located in the Kashmir Town neighbourhood of the city. The combined event was underway when a decrepit interior wall that had grown weak due to water seepage collapsed, killing six people and injuring 13 others, rescue officials said. The injured were shifted to a district hospital for treatment. Two of the injured children are in critical condition.

The aforesaid woman was the mother of one of the children who died. She was at the school to collect her child's academic results. Both lost their lives in the incident.

Deputy Commissioner Naila Baqar arrived at the scene following the incident and issued instructions to initiate an investigation. She said that the principal was well aware of the wall's condition but did not get it repaired, and attributed the accident to negligence on the school administration's part.

She also directed the authorities to register a first information report (FIR) against the school principal.

Later in the day, a case was registered under Section 322 of the Pakistan Penal Code against six individuals, including the school owner at Satellite Town police station. Of the six nominated, four were arrested by the police.

The case was registered on the complaint of one of the deceased children's father.

A six-member committee was also formed to probe the incident. "The inquiry committee will present its findings within 24 hours," said DC Baqar.

Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas took notice of the incident and made a visit to Gujranwala. While speaking to media, he said that the incident was immensely sorrowful and that government stands with the families of the deceased and shares in their grief.

"Whoever granted the building a certificate in 2018 must be arrested immediately," he said.

"Our focus now will be to assess and repair existing schools prior to the construction of new ones," the education minister vowed.

"Schools found to have dilapidated buildings will be shut down," he added and revealed that a new bill for opening private schools is about to be introduced.

He assured the media that the injured children are receiving the highest quality treatment.

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