Four cleaners suffocate to death in chemical factory’s boiler
A group of five outsourced cleaners climbed into a boiler of a chemical company near Ghagar Phatak on Thursday for cleaning it before the start of its operation, but four of them could not make out of it alive.
Malir SSP Rao Anwaar told The News that a group of five men arrived at the recently established SCADA-CHEM Industries at 1am to clean its boiler.
Anwaar said one of the cleaners climbed into the boiler and started cleaning it by standing on its fan, but he slipped and fell to the bottom. “To save him, four others jumped in after him, but all of them fell unconscious.”
The news of the incident was received by the media through the rescuers, who were called in to fish the cleaners out of the boiler.
The SSP said the container had no handles that the cleaners could have used to get out, adding that there was some kind of chemical present in the boiler, which had not been cleaned since its installation.
He said the owner of the company was identified as Aabid Mahmood Qaimkhani, adding that Qaimkhani owned another company, whose general manager Iqbal Usman told the police that his employer’s phone was unreachable soon after the news of the incident broke.
“Usman also told the police about the chemical company’s board of directors, which comprise Rafiq Ali Muhammad Jafrani, Altaf Saleh Muhammad Jafrani and Fahad Khalid Jafrani.”
Bin Qasim SHO Dhani Bakhsh Marri confirmed that four cleaners – identified as Tanveer, Zahoor, Sufiyan and Faisal – had suffocated to death, adding that the fifth cleaner, Ali Shah, was unconscious and under treatment at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.
Marri said the police had detained three workers of the chemical company for interrogation, adding that the cleaners were not properly trained and had not followed the standard operating procedure for cleaning the boiler.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has taken notice of the incident and sought a detailed report from the labour secretary. He asked if the chemical factory was registered and when was it last inspected.
He also asked if the workers who had died in the incident were registered with the Sindh Employees Social Security Institution, and reiterated that he wanted a detailed report on the incident.
On May 15 last year, five workers had died of suffocation at a factory in Korangi Industrial Area. Police said Irfan Sharif, 25, Miraj, 28, Raheem, 24, his brother Shakeel, 20, and Irbaz, 23, died of suffocation in a chemical tank at the Maxen Plastic Factory in Sector 24 of Korangi Industrial Area while they were cleaning it.
A medic-legal officer at the JPMC said the workers had died of suffocation. The Korangi Industrial Area SHO said that tank was around 20 feet deep and filled with eight feet of water. Police told The News that there were around 15 illegal plastic factories in the Korangi Industrial Area and they had informed the higher authorities several times about them, but they had not responded.
The Korangi Industrial Area police registered a case on the complaint of Abdul Kalam against the factory owner, Wasi, and supervisor, Ehsan.
On December 4, 2015 at a pickle factory in Darul Islam Society, Korangi, the owner and seven workers too had died of suffocation when they fell in a chemical tank there.
On November 20, 2015, three workers of an oil company in Bin Qasim had died of suffocation while they were cleaning a tank.