Karachi building collapse: death toll rises to 27 as authorities retrieve more bodies

Updated 08 Mar 2020

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Security personnel and volunteers carry out rescue work on the rooftop of one of the structures upon which the five-storey building fell on Thursday.  — Dawn/File
Security personnel and volunteers carry out rescue work on the rooftop of one of the structures upon which the five-storey building fell on Thursday. — Dawn/File

Rescue services on Sunday recovered eight more bodies from the rubble of a building that collapsed in Karachi's Gulbahar area earlier this week, taking the death toll of the tragedy to 27.

On Thursday, the residential building had fallen on two adjacent structures, bringing them to the ground as well, killing 14 people and injuring at least 17 others. Since then, bodies of multiple victims have been retrieved from the debris while a boy was pulled out alive from the rubble on Saturday.

It took four days for the debris to be removed completely. An Edhi spokesperson explained that the area was congested so more heavy machinery could not be brought in to help with rescue efforts. A rescue team of the Pakistan Army had cordoned off the area while the operation was underway.

According to rescue services, seven victims belong to the same family.

Technical body formed

Sindh Building Control Authority (SCBA) Director General Nasim-ul-Ghani Sahito constituted a three-member committee to "probe into the incident of collapse of building situated on Plot No.95/1 400 quarters adjacent to Rizvia Society, Liaquatabad Town", a notification said.

The team is led by SBCA structure director, Benish Shabbir and comprises SCBA (Baldia Town) Director Nadeem Ahmed and head of the Architecture and Planning Department of NED University, Noman Ahmed.

According to the terms of references, the committee will have to submit a "report for the cause of collapse with reference to soil test report, where the building was existing (sic)".

It shall also submit the "cube test of the concrete", strength of the material that [was] used in the building and other cause(s) including age of the building", according to the notification availaible with Dawn.

The body has been directed to submit its findings by March 12.

The committee will start its investigation on Monday, Professor Noman had told Dawn.

The development came just as Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani said that an inquiry had been launched to ascertain the exact cause of the incident. He said it would be investigated whether or not the SBCA had approved the building’s design and criminal charges would be filed against those involved in the case.

Preliminary investigation suggests builder's fault

A preliminary investigation suggested that the builder had allegedly carried out major excavation work at the foundation and tried to erect additional pillars to support the existing pillars. He did it to strengthen the building structure and prevent it from collapsing.

Read: Boy recovered alive from building debris

Rizvia Society police station investigation officer Agha Amir told Dawn that the owner, Mohammed Javed Khan, had started construction work on a fifth floor when the building cracked.

Govt authorities take notice

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Friday had taken notice of the building collapse and directed Commissioner Karachi to ensure that rescue and relief operations were executed smoothly in the area.

Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, while taking notice of the incident, had ordered that the injured be provided the best possible medical care.

Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Mahar had also directed Central Senior Superintendent of Police Mohammad Arif Aslam Rao to head the rescue operation in the area, according to a police press release. A contingent of police and Rangers was dispatched to the area to help with the rescue operation.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail also took notice of the building collapse and asked Commissioner Karachi and Sindh Building Control Authority to compile detailed reports on the incident.

On Friday, a case was registered at Rizvia Police Station in Karachi in the state's name against the building owner. The first information report includes clauses 322 (causing death without intention), 119 (Qisas), 337 (causing bodily harm), 427 (mischief causing material damage) and 190 (aiding and abetting) of the Pakistan Penal Code.