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Five perish as building collapses in Karachi

KARACHI – At least five people, including father and a son, lost their lives while around a dozen others were injured after a residential building collapsed in a congested Liaquatabad neighbourhood on Tuesday. The three-storey building housing apartments and a hotel at famous ‘Sarya Gali’ in Liaquatabad No 9 suddenly collapsed with a loud bang in the afternoon.

A boy, who was injured in the incident, said that the bang was so loud that he thought for a second that he had been hit by a missile. “It was later that it dawned upon me that it was the building that had come down,” he recalled.

“We were trapped under the debris and were provided with oxygen by the rescuers for around two hours before we were taken out,” he said. Over two dozen occupants were inside the building at the time of the incident.

Some of them were, however, immediately rescued as hundreds of people immediately gathered at the spot and pulled them out of the rubble even before the rescuers from different departments could arrive.

Heavy machinery was also called to the site to participate in the rescue operation, but was not utilised after the rescuers managed to pull people out of the debris manually.

Deputy Mayor Arshad Vohra, during his visit to the site, said that using heavy machinery in initial stages could have been more dangerous. “More lives could have been lost if heavy machinery had been used in the beginning,” he told media.

“We used cutters to rescue the people trapped under the debris and remained successful in doing so.”

The authorities concerned confirmed five deaths in the building collapse. “Five bodies were recovered from the rubble,” Deputy Commissioner Captain (r) Fareeduddin Mustafa confirmed.

He said that all machinery required for the operation was present at the site, adding that it could take up to 24 hours to remove the debris after an incident of this nature.

According to residents of the area, building’s foundation had weakened due to the sewage remaining accumulated in the street almost all the time, particularly during rain.

A resident, Fakhar-ud-Din Salim, said that the accident was bound to happen because people preferred profits over lives. “In whole Liaquatabad, you cannot even build a two-storey house. But see the buildings around this ill-fated house,” he said, and questioned the authority of concerned departments. “Who to blame when everyone from owner of the house to the authorities are involved in this dirty game,” Inayatullah deplored.

 “Inflation has forced people to live in small houses because they cannot afford big houses in such meagre salaries. People prefer to live in cage like houses because this is all they can afford.”

Body to probe within 15 days

Mayor demanded the impartial inquiry of the building collapse incident in Liaquatabad area while Director General Sindh Building Control Authority formed an inquiry committee to probe the incident and submit its report within 15 days.

Wasim Akhtar said that the Sindh Building Control Authority should conduct survey of entire Karachi and the Sindh government and SBCA should take action regarding obsolete and dangerous buildings.

He said this on Tuesday morning while expressing sorrow and grief over the loss of precious lives and property in the building collapse incident in Liaquatabad. He urged the SBCA to carry out complete inquiry of the incident and punish those found responsible for it.

Mayor Karachi reached the site of incident and monitored the rescue operation. He directed to provide best medical treatment to those injured in this incident.

The almost 25 year old building was constructed in violation of the city’s building rules and regulations. Wasim Akhtar blamed the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) and described the building as ‘illegal’. “The builders are constructing four-storey buildings in the area despite they have also the permission for a ground-plus-two-storey,” explained Akhtar. “SBCA chief should be asked how the multi-storey residential buildings are being constructed in the area.”

On the other side, following the directives of Provincial Minister for local government Jam Khan Shoro Director General Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) Agha Maqsood Abbas formed an inquiry committee to investigate the incident. The building collapsed in wee hours on Tuesday as five inhabitants of the building lost their lives while three sustained injuries.

SBCA spokesperson said a double storey old constructed building located at plot number 10/315 in Liaqutabad area collapsed due to its dilapidated structure. Director General SBCA Agha Maqsood after being informed of the incident dispatched a technical team to ascertain the reason behind the incident and also directed to cooperate with district administration in rescue operation, spokesperson added.

He further said that the inquiry team initially in its report stated that the building has collapsed due to its old structure and its base was also damaged due to seepage from sewerage and rain water. “The team informed that the base of the building was not able to sustain the load of the building and therefore collapsed.” However, the Director General SBCA formed an inquiry committee comprising on Vice Chairman Pakistan Engineering Council Muktar Sheikh, Director of Building SBCA Ashkar Dawar, Consulting Structure Engineer Essa Babar and deputy director Ali Ghufran to compile the complete report about the incident within 15 days.

On the other side, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KSWB) rejected the allegations against the department. “Blaming KW&SB by SBCA over the incident is regrettable,” KWSB spokesperson said. “We strongly condemned the statement regarding the debilitated of the foundations of the building due to sewerage water.” The spokesperson said that the building was already debilitated and the landlord had cut off the two pillars of the building to make its hotel into a ground floor which caused of building is collapsed.

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