Services Hospital old block collapses in Lahore

Published December 1, 2023
Rescue operations after the dilapidated block of the Services Hospital collapsed during renovation work. — White Star
Rescue operations after the dilapidated block of the Services Hospital collapsed during renovation work. — White Star

LAHORE: A 65-year-old three-storey building/block at the Services Hospital collapsed here on Thursday.

Luckily, there was no patient at the time of the incident as the block had been vacated a month back for renovation. The block was [earlier] housing departments of paediatric surgery, ENT and ophthalmology.

The hospital’s senior officials said several labourers were working at the time of the incident and they vacated the building when they noticed the electricity wires got heated and suddenly caught fire.

As soon as they came out of the building, it collapsed with a bang, they said adding that the incident created panic in the hospital as the attendants of the patients admitted to the adjoining blocks immediately began to shift them to other safe places.

The hospital’s administration alerted Rescue 1122 and the police declaring emergency in the institute.

Three-storey structure was vacated a month ago; adjacent 65-year-old building still functional

Lahore Deputy Commissioner Rafia Haider, who rushed to the spot, said all the workers have been safely evacuated from the building.

She said the Rescue 1122 staff and the police officials responded timely and sealed the adjoining areas/buildings as a safety measure.

The DC said the relevant officials have launched an investigation to determine the cause of the collapse.

On the other hand, the incident created a potential risk to the lives of hundreds of patients, attendants, doctors, nurses and other employees as the other blocks/buildings adjacent to it were also 65 years old.

Some experts and officials from the Services Hospital feared that lives of a large number of people, who are presently using or visiting the other old blocks or buildings, are in danger.

Presently, they said, the old blocks, which are adjacent to the collapsed one, had been constructed some 65 years back.

These blocks are housing the administration section having the offices of the medical superintendent, Additional MS and deputy MS and their relevant staff, the officials told Dawn.

They said hundreds of patients were also under treatment at the indoor wards including five surgical, four medical units, paeds medicine, surgical ICU, high dependency unit of dengue patients, nephrology, plastic surgery, dental section etc.

They feared that as these indoor wards were located in other 65-year-old blocks, all the patients, attendants and employees are at a greater risk in the wake of Thursday’s incident.

The experts suggested that the institute immediately get all the old blocks vacated to avoid human loss and hand them over to the civil engineers to examine and inspect the structures.

A senior admin official said initially established in 1958, Services Hospital started as an outdoor mini-hospital for government employees, as a satellite clinic of the Mayo Hospital.

He said the hospital had 60 beds at that time to provide basic health facilities. In 1960, he said, it was named Wahdat Hospital, and was subsequently renamed Services Hospital.

Services’ Medical Superintendent Dr Munir Malik told Dawn that no casualty or injury was reported in the incident.

He confirmed that all the buildings/blocks except emergency ward, outdoor and radiology tower of the Services Hospital were constructed some 65 years back.

About the [dilapidated] condition of the other blocks, he said, Punjab caretaker health minister Prof Javed Akram has announced formation of a high-level committee comprising civil experts, senior admin officials and the medics to inspect the old structure.

A rescue 1122 spokesperson also made it clear that no casualty or injury was reported.

He said the rescuers used ‘life locators/devices’ to check the presence of individuals under the debris.

However, no evidence was found in this respect during the rescue operation which continued till night (at 7:30pm), the spokesperson said.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2023

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