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10 die of suffocation due to chemical waste in Pakistan
Publication Date : 03-05-2014
At least 10 people died of suffocation and eight others fell unconscious here on Friday while passing through a water channel that carries chemical waste from industries, mainly from Chasma Sugar Mills-2, to the Indus River.
Nazir Ahmed, the reporting officer at the Purwa Police Station, said that a girl had fallen unconscious in the nullah. About 15 people who went in to rescue the child also fell unconscious.
Station House Officer (SHO) of Purwa Police Station, Muhammad Nawaz told Dawn.com that the victims hailing from Kacha area most likely fell unconscious due to toxic fumes.
He said they had taken out two bodies so far and more than 15 unconscious people to the hospital but their status was not yet known. Four bodies including that of a child and a women has been brought to the Purwa Hospital and five of the dead belong to one family.
“Most of them died from suffocation as due to chemical wastes there was shortage of oxygen, and when these people were passing thorough this water channel they fell unconscious and subsequently died,” Dr Jehangir, a local who runs a clinic in the area told Dawn.com.
Most of these people used to cross this water channel in Paloon area of Ramak on a daily basis for household activities and farming. The water channel, usually crossed on foot by the locals, is less than two feet deep and mainly carries waste from the mill.
Jehangir said about eight people were referred to the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Purwa as there was no clinic in the village to treat them.
Khyber Pakthunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khatak, taking notice of the incident, said those responsible would be taken to task.
A statement, issued form the Chief Minister House, directed the commissioner and other high ranking officials to reach the area and find out the cause of the incident, supervise rescue operations and assess the situation to find out who is responsible.
The statement said that it seemed negligence on the part of the sugar mill’s administration was the primary cause, as well as local administrative machinery which could not save lives.