Islamabad: At least 18 people were killed and over 70 others injured late Wednesday after a four-storey building of a factory collapsed in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore, local media and officials said.
“The rescue workers have so far retrieved 16 dead bodies while at least 40 injured have been taken to hospitals,” Usman, the city's top administration official who was coordinating the response to the disaster, said.
Later, Edhi officials confirmed it to Dawn that they have shifted 18 bodies to the hospital. The accident happened when labourers were busy doing construction work at the fourth storey of the building in the Sundar Industrial State of Lahore, provincial capital of the country's eastern province of Punjab.
Local media quoting some rescue officials said that they can hear screams and calls for help from the people trapped under the debris. A state of emergency has been declared in all public hospitals in the city.
All the injured have been shifted to the hospitals where the majority of them found with broken legs and arms. According to local media reports, at the time of the incident, around 150 people were working in the factory that produces polythene bags.
The official said the actual number of casualties will be ascertained once the rescue operation is completed. The reason behind the accident was not known yet, but an injured factory worker said the owner was not allowed by the officials to construct the fourth storey, but despite all warnings he started to work on it this morning.
Owner of the factory was reportedly also among the people who are still trapped under the rubble. Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed grief over casualties in the incident and have directed officials to expedite rescue efforts.
The teams of Pakistan army's engineering corps and urban search and rescue teams have already reached the site and started to remove the debris to pull out the trapped people.