Six labourers lost their lives and four others were injured in a powerful explosion at an ice factory in New Karachi Industrial Area on Monday.
Two of the deceased victims were identified as Zulfiqar and Rafiq. The boiler and a compressor exploded at around 7:40am inside the factory located near Saba Cinema. A rickshaw and a minibus were damaged and stuck under the debris. A factory located near the explosion site was also partially damaged.
The workers usually stayed back after working in the factory overnight and most of them were asleep when the incident took place. “It was like a bomb blast,” said Muhammad Khalid, who works at the same factory and was injured in the explosion. “I was asleep and I had no idea what happened.”
Other workers from nearby factories and rescuers reached the site and helped retrieve the workers trapped in debris. The district administration also sent in machinery to remove the debris but gas leakage from the damaged pipelines hindered rescue efforts. After the factory roof collapsed, K-Electric suspended electricity supply to the area.
The bodies and the injured were later taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.
“First, the boiler exploded and then the compressor exploded with a loud bang damaging the entire factory,” said New Karachi Industrial Area police station SHO Tariq Rahim. “A case will be registered against the factory owner if negligence is found or if the victims’ families approach the police to register a case.” So far, the police have not registered a case.
The bomb disposal squad was also called at the site and the experts ruled out a possibility of the incident being a terrorist act. The factory management and the police investigators believed that the explosion occurred due to the explosion of the boiler and the compressor. “It was too powerful. It quickly collapsed the entire factory – its walls and a roof,” said Hamid, a factory manager. “Most of the casualties occurred due to the presence of iron material in the factory.”
The factory had been operating for over a decade and workers used to work in day and night shifts. The factory staff said that they did not have any idea how it happened. “This is the first time such an incident occurred” said Ismail, a factory worker.