Lahore tragedy: Death toll in factory collapse climbs to 41

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LAHORE : The death toll from this week’s horrific building collapse in Punjab’s provincial capital rose to 41 on Saturday after rescue workers recovered four more bodies from the canteen area of the plastic bag factory.

Citing an attendance register found at the site, Lahore ’s District Coordination Officer (DCO) Captain (retd) Muhammad Usman said that the presence of 114 factory workers had been confirmed at the time of the accident.

In all, there were 164 people, including construction workers and visitors, at the site, according to Capt Usman.

“We have recovered 41 bodies and 103 injured persons, and expect to find 10 to 12 more persons trapped inside,” he said. The DCO clarified that all these figures were estimated and it was not possible to give a precise figure. “The rescue work will continue without a break till the site is cleared which may take two more days,” he added.

Meanwhile, Red Crescent Society Pakistan set up a camp outside the site to register the claims of the victim’s family members and relatives. At least 25 families have claimed that their family members, who worked in the factory, are missing, an official of Red Crescent Society said.

Rescue 1122’s Punjab Emergency Academy official said they had cleared more than 40 % of the site – the front side of the building – and were now moving towards the back,” he said.

He said an uninterrupted rescue operation continued for the third day, adding that rescuers were working in shifts. He said the whole area of the wreckage site was spread out over an area of 7 kanals.

He said the rescuers were using a de-layering technique. “We cut slabs of concrete with heavy cutters; then searched thoroughly and lifted the slabs with cranes,” he said.

Workers of Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) are also sprinkling water at the site as the place had become dusty because of debris of building collapse and movement of heavy vehicles.

Police and other law enforcement agencies have cordoned off the site and are allowing only the concerned authorities and media to enter the area after verifying their identity.

Rescuers and members of law enforcement agencies had set up their camps at open places near the site. The teams who were on standby stayed in those camps for rest and food.

An official of Rescue 1122’s Disaster Response Force (DRF) said that most of the unit members were working continuously without a break. “The rescue teams are working in shifts and there is no compulsion on them. But the teams are working rigorously on their own determination,” he said.

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