Scores under rubble as 5 dead in Pakistan

Scores under rubble as 5 dead in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD - The Associated Press
Scores under rubble as 5 dead in Pakistan

Rescue workers look for survivors in the debris of a building that collapsed in Lahore. AP photo

Rescue workers struggled to reach dozens of people trapped in the rubble of a factory that collapsed in an eastern Pakistani city yesterday, killing at least five, officials said.

The factory, which manufactured medicine, had been set up illegally in a residential area of Lahore and caved in after several gas cylinders inside exploded, said the city’s deputy commissioner, Ahad Cheema. Authorities had previously closed the factory three times, but each time it reopened.

The factory was owned by a local politician, who used his influence to keep it open despite complaints from neighbors, said local resident Munawar Ali. Records indicate there were 62 people, including women and children, inside the factory when it collapsed, said police official Sarfraz Falki. “We believe some 50 to 60 people are still trapped in the rubble,” said Falki.

The five dead people who have been pulled out so far included a woman and a 12-year-old boy, said Rizwan Naseer, head of the state-run rescue service in Punjab province, of which Lahore is the capital. Rescue workers were having a difficult time digging out others under the rubble because the narrow streets around the factory made it tough to get heavy machinery to the site, said Naseer.

A young girl, Shakila Iqrar, wept at the scene as she told reporters that her cousin and older sister were trapped under the massive slabs of concrete. “There were voices coming from inside, but now they are not coming,” said Iqrar. “I want to ask to all of you to please get them out quickly.”