KARACHI, Nov 4: Families of more than two dozen victims of the Baldia Town factory fire, whose bodies charred beyond recognition, are still waiting for the DNA reports of their loved ones from a laboratory in Islamabad, where samples had been sent some 40 days ago.
Police investigators are also feeling helpless as they see no sign of early completion of the process.
Officials said that heirs of more than 40 workers missing since the Baldia Town factory fire incident had submitted blood samples after a few days of the incident and the police sent the samples to a laboratory for matching these with the DNA samples obtained from the charred bodies found from the haunted industrial unit.
“Since then we have received results of only 14 samples from the forensic laboratory in Islamabad,” said Investigation Officer Sub-Inspector Jehanzaib of the Site-B police station. “Some 30 bodies are still lying at the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth. We have sent a number of reminders to the laboratory but we are not aware of the exact reasons behind the delay.”
He found it hard to answer the family members of the ‘missing’ workers to give them exact timeframe of the completion of the process, as the police authorities were also in the dark about the fate of those sample sent more than 40 days ago.“We sent them reminders and can only request them to expedite the process.
They have not mentioned any lacking or anything missing on our part so it’s obvious that the delay in the process is due to their (lab) own issues,” added the IO.Authorities had declared a total of 259 deaths in the fire that engulfed the Ali Enterprise on the eve of Sept 11 and took more than 18 hours to extinguish with over 50 firefighters taking part in the operation using almost all available machinery and equipment of the city’s fire department.
As the report of an inquiry tribunal set up by the provincial government to investigate the Baldia Town factory inferno is keenly awaited, the agony of the victims’ families has yet to come to closure.
Muhammad Shahid, the elder son of Shafiq Ahmed who was one of among missing factory workers, said he provided his blood sample only two days after the incident but had yet to hear anything from the police authorities.
“We have lost our father but the irony is that we are not counted among the fire victims until the identification of the body. My widow mother has been asked to prove his husband’s death in the fire to get compensation announced by the government and different other organisations,” said Muhammad Shahid.
Experts also wonder over the unusual delay in the process of DNA sampling.
Though the Sindh health minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed had said that there was no such facility in the province, a few institutions find themselves capable of doing the job.
“We do not conduct such jobs regularly,” said Prof Dr Abid Azhar, the director-general of the Dr A.Q. Khan Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering at the University of Karachi. “We also avoid DNA sampling in terrorism cases. However, in the incident like Baldia Town factory fire where only recognition of the charred bodies is concerned, we can handle that task.”