KARACHI: A man was injured when a portion of a garment factory, whose structure got weakened after the recent heavy rains, collapsed in SITE on Monday afternoon, officials and rescuers said.
They added that a portion of the industrial unit, which spreads over an area of around 4,000 square yards, collapsed near Siemens Chowrangi. Reportedly, two labourers came under the debris as all other workers had gone for lunch and prayer when the incident took place.
Police, Rangers and rescue services rushed to the spot and launched rescue operation.
A man was recovered alive from the debris and sent to hospital for treatment.
Police Surgeon Qarar Ahmed Abbasi said that Mustaqeem Amir, 23, was brought to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for treatment.
Commissioner orders SITE chief to conduct survey of all ‘dangerous’ buildings
The factory administration told the media that the incident occurred at lunch/prayer time and only two workers were present. One of them suffered minor injuries and was sent home while another was sent to hospital for treatment and his condition was out of danger.
‘Building portion collapsed within seconds’
Inside the factory premises, there were 20 to 25 ambulances parked to pull out the victims from underneath the portion that had collapsed.
The factory owners had latched the main gate from inside as police and Rangers personnel helped with the relief work. The first person that they were able to pull out from the wreckage was from one of the bathrooms.
The garment factory had an untidy facade. Somewhere the faded yellow building with peeling paint was two-storeys high and somewhere it was three storeys. At many places it had plain brick walls with no paint or plaster and blue cylindrical fibreglass water tanks placed on top of the overhanging eaves.
“It was a little after Zohr prayers. Having said my prayers I was going back to the factory to ask what my colleagues wanted for lunch from the little eatery next door when I saw a pillar break. There were steel bars protruding from it as it reduced to pieces before my very eyes,” said Ahmed Raza, a worker at the partially collapsed garment factory.
“I shouted for everyone to come out immediately. I could see it was just a matter of seconds before the building portion collapsed, and it did before everyone escaped,” he added.
The shock of what he had witnessed was making him speak very quickly as if the faster he spoke the faster they’ll get those trapped underneath the rubble out.
Mr Raza said that the factory comprising various departments such as the design department, cutting and stitching department, modelling department, packaging department, etc.
He said that as far as he knew, the women workers, all assigned to the cutting and stitching department, which is intact, were safe and those trapped under the wreckage were all men. He said he was himself associated with the packaging department, which collapsed.
He also said that he had been working at the factory for three years now and earned around Rs17,000. He landed the job soon after coming to Karachi from Umerkot.
Local Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Amjad Afridi was also one of the people standing outside the closed factory gates. “I have been informed by some factory workers here that they had been complaining for the past 20 days about the now-collapsed portion developing cracks and shaking floors,” he said.
Survey of ‘dangerous’ buildings ordered
Karachi Commissioner Sohail Rajput, who visited the spot, told Dawn that the structure of the building got weakened due to recent rains.
He added that the “owners had not taken due care to protect their labourers”.
He announced that legal action was being taken against the owners of the factory.
“The MD SITE has been directed to complete a survey of dangerous buildings in his jurisdiction and get them vacated,” he said.
Karachi Administrator Iftikhar Shallwani also visited the spot and said that the urban search and rescue team of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation took part in the rescue operation.
He said that there was no evidence that any other person was under the debris.
It would be ascertained as to whether the building was declared dangerous by the Sindh Building Control Authority, he said, adding that an FIR would be registered against the factory owners.
Area SHO Zawar Husain confirmed that only one person was rescued in an injured condition.
Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2020