FAISALABAD: Four workers were killed and 11 others injured when the boiler of a factory exploded on Sargodha Road on Tuesday.

Rescue 1122 officials shifted the injured to the Allied Hospital where four of them are said to be critical.

The explosion collapsed the roof of the building of M.A Processing Mill and labourers were buried under the rubble. Locals said the blast had broken the windowpanes of some nearby houses.

The deceased were identified as Liaquat (50), Irfan (35), Kashif (35), and Abdul Razaq (38), the Rescue 1122 said.

The injured are: Allah Ditta (50), Akbar Ali (45), Sikander, (55), Arshad (32), Sajawal (50), Sher Ali (34), Tariq (35), Irfan (35), Allah Ditta (35), Younas (18) and Fezan (18).

Rescue 1122 received call about the explosion at 5:35am.

Rescuers used heavy machinery to trace the workers who were trapped under the rubble. Hassam Ahmed, living about two kilometres away from the spot, said he was woken up by the blast early in the morning. He said the bang had jolted windows of his room and the door as well. He said windowpanes of nearby houses were also damaged.

Sources said the factory owner(s) had installed a locally made boiler without seeking the government certificate mandatory to check its fitness. They said the district administration officials were well aware of the installation of the boiler, however, no action had been taken against the factory owner or removal of the boiler.

An official said the boiler was installed in November last year and the notices had been served on the factory owners Shakeel Ahmed, Shahbaz Afzal and Mohammad Sohaib for closure of the boiler. He said the factory owners did not bother to respond to the notices although on Jan 29 last, a final notice for closure had been served on them, but to no avail. As many as 40 labourers work in this dying unit in two shifts, he said adding the deputy commissioner would decide fate of the factory owners.

Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Ali said a committee had been formed to ascertain the facts of the incident “and a report is expected soon.”

Shahid, a cloth trader, said it was the fault of the factory owners who ignored the regular maintenance only to save their money. He said the workers serving at the boilers regularly report to the owners in case of any fault as they would become victim [of the fault].

He said in the past boiler of a textile factory exploded and nothing had been done by the government.

This was the second severe incident of boiler explosion in which labourers were killed.

On Dec 26, 2013, nine workers were killed and eight others injured when a boiler of Dawood Export (pvt) Limited on Sargodha Road exploded.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2020