Six labourers died while cleaning a chemical tank in a garment factory near Nauras Chowrangi in SITE in the wee hours of Saturday.
Police and rescue workers shifted the bodies to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for medico-legal formalities. They were later shifted to a morgue in Lines Area, before being handed over to their families.
The deceased were identified as Kashan, 22, Boora, 22, Gard Hari, 23, Naseeb, 25, Ramesh, 26 and Shahbaz, 28, he apprised.
According to SITE B SHO Muhammad Ayaz, the labourers were cleaning the tank when their condition deteriorated and they suffocated to death.
The police stated that the tank, which was around 50 feet deep, was partly filled with chemicals, adding that one worker initially entered it for cleaning but fell unconscious, while the others were affected while trying to rescue him. Further investigation is underway to confirm how the incident took place
According to the law enforcers, the families were only informed of the incident when they came to the factory to inquire about their loved ones after they failed to return home after work.
The deceased’s families staged a protest against the incident, claiming that a case should be registered against the factory administration and adding that their negligence had caused the deaths. They further pointed out that machines were now available for cleaning chemical tanks with poisonous gases, but factory owners used workers for this purpose in order to save money.
They demanded that the government ensure effective labour inspection mechanisms to address the lack of occupational health and safety standards in the industrial sector.
The SHO said that the statements of the factory owner, management and witnesses were being recorded. He added that a case would be registered if the factory administration was found guilty of negligence or the deceased’s families approached the police to file a complaint.
Meanwhile, Sindh Industries and Commerce Minister Jam Ikramullah Dharejo took notice of the incident, ordering the SITE managing director to inspect the location and submit a report.
He further directed the relevant officials to identify those responsible for the negligence and take action against them according to the law.
Moreover, the minister ordered the factory owners to take necessary measures to avoid such incidents in the future.
This is not the first time workers have lost their lives in such an incident. In 2016, five workers died of suffocation at a factory in Korangi Industrial Area, while in 2015, a factory owner and seven workers died after falling into a chemical tank at a pickle factory in Korangi. Three workers also died of suffocation while cleaning a tank at an oil company in Bin Qasim in 2015.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2020.