LAHORE: Three persons of a family died while four others suffered injuries allegedly when an oxygen cylinder exploded in a house, resulting in collapse of its upper storey in Richna Block, Iqbal Town, on Saturday morning.
According to preliminary investigation, the oxygen cylinder was being used by the head of the family, Arif Siddique, 70, who was a patient of asthma.
As per the family, as soon as an attendant tried to open the valve of the cylinder to give oxygen to the patient, the cylinder exploded with a bang.
Quoting neighbours, a police official said the blast was so powerful that the three-room upper storey of the rented house collapsed completely.
Two of the four injured persons critical
As a result, eight members of the family, including Arif Siddique, Kanwal Siddique (47), Abubkar (20), Sheza (25), Talat (32), Zeshan (45), Saima (25) and Husnain (3) buried in the debris.
He said the police and the Rescue 1122 were informed about the incident by neighbours.
The rescuers recovered Arif, Kanwal and Abubakar dead from the debris, while Sheza and Talat suffered serious head and chest injuries. The injured were shifted to the Shaikh Zayed Hospital Lahore where the condition of the both was stated to be critical, the official said.
The official alleged that the ill-planned and delayed operation by the Rescue 1122 was one of the reasons behind the death of the three persons.
He said though the blast occurred around 5:40am, the first dead body was recovered at 10:41am, some five hours after the incident, while the second and third bodies were retrieved at 2:54pm and 3:30pm, respectively.
He said the first responding team of the Rescue 1122 which reached the site was not sufficiently equipped with the specialised machinery required to carry out such rescue operations.
The official said the disaster response team reached the site at 10:12am with heavy machinery, including high-pressure hydraulic cutter that was used to drill the concrete structure to retrieve the trapped people.
The major rescue operation was launched some five hours after the building collapsed, he said, adding that it took the rescuers 10 hours or so to complete the task.
However, the Rescue 1122 spokesperson denied the allegation of delayed operation, saying the first team which reached the spot timely assessed the situation that required drilling and removal of heavy debris.
In the light of the first team’s assessment the disaster response team headed by Dr Farhan reached there around 10am and managed to recover two seriously injured members of the family and rushed them to hospital, he added.
The team also provided treatment on the spot to three others who had suffered minor injuries, the spokesperson said.
Operations SSP Ismail Kharrak told Dawn that apparently it was oxygen cylinder blast, adding that forensic experts engaged by the police feared that the cylinder was substandard.
The experts, he said, collected pieces of the exploded cylinder from the scene and dispatched them for forensic analysis to dig out the facts.
The police were awaiting reports to complete the investigation into the blast incident, he said, adding that action would be taken later.
Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2019