Thursday 8 December 2016

Workers trapped in collapsed Pakistan factory plead for help on mobile phones

Mubasher Bukhari

Published 05/11/2015 | 06:57

Pakistan rescue workers use heavy machinery to remove debris of a collapsed building in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Pakistan rescue workers use heavy machinery to remove debris of a collapsed building in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Pakistan army soldiers take part in rescue work following the collapse of a building in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Pakistan rescue workers carry a victim to an ambulance at the site of a collapsed building in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Rescue workers carry out an injured man after a factory collapsed near the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza
Rescue workers search for survivors after a factory collapsed near the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza
Rescue workers carry out an injured man after a factory collapsed near the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza
Vehicles cause light streaks during a major power breakdown, in Karachi, Pakistan, in this July 7, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/Files

Survivors trapped in the rubble of a collapsed Pakistani factory pleaded for help on their mobile phones on Thursday even as rescuers said they feared the death toll of 18 could rise in the latest tragedy to spotlight poor safety standards in south Asia.

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Nearly 100 survivors have been pulled from the wreckage of the factory, which made shopping bags 20 km (12 miles) south of the city of Lahore, but rescuers say scores of workers had been crowded into the building's basement.

"We were working on the first floor when the roof collapsed," said one of the trapped workers, Liaqat Ali, who used his mobile to talk to a television station.

"Now, I can hear the rumble of heavy machines which gives me hope that I will come out alive."

Pakistan rescue workers carry a victim to an ambulance at the site of a collapsed building in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Pakistan rescue workers carry a victim to an ambulance at the site of a collapsed building in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Rescue officials on Wednesday said 150 people were believed to have been in the building when it collapsed. But rescuers had to move slowly, government officials said, to avoid further injuries to those still trapped.

Injured survivors said the factory's owner, who was adding a third floor, had ignored advice from his contractor and pleas from his workers to stop construction after cracks in the walls following a powerful earthquake last week.

Rescue workers carry out an injured man after a factory collapsed near the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza
Rescue workers carry out an injured man after a factory collapsed near the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

"The factory owner had an exchange of harsh words with the contractor who had advised him to stop the work due to cracks appearing after the earthquake," Muhammad Ramzan, a worker trapped under the rubble, told rescue officials by telephone.

The quake of magnitude 7.5 killed more than 300 people in Pakistan and the northern parts of neighbouring Afghanistan and damaged thousands of buildings.

Rescue workers carry out an injured man after a factory collapsed near the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza
Rescue workers carry out an injured man after a factory collapsed near the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

The owner of the factory was among the dead, said a government official, Muhammed Usman. Representatives of the factory management could not immediately be reached for comment.

Muhammed Younis Bhatti, an official of emergency responder Edhi Rescue Services, said 97 survivors had been pulled from the rubble.

Vehicles cause light streaks during a major power breakdown, in Karachi, Pakistan, in this July 7, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/Files
Vehicles cause light streaks during a major power breakdown, in Karachi, Pakistan, in this July 7, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/Files

Pakistan's construction sector is plagued by poor oversight and developers frequently flout building codes.

In September 2012, 289 people burned to death in a fire at a garment factory in the southern city of Karachi. On the same day, a fire at a shoe factory in Lahore killed 25.

Reuters

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