Death toll in Pakistan factory collapse set to rise: official

Death toll in Pakistan factory collapse set to rise: official
Pakistani rescuers move a man rescued from under the rubble of a collapsed factory on the outskirts of Lahore on November 5, 2015.
PHOTO: AFP

Lahore, Pakistan - Rescue crews resumed digging through the rubble of a collapsed factory in Pakistan Friday as officials said they expected to find at least two dozen more bodies, with the death toll standing at 23.

More than 100 survivors have already been pulled from the debris of the four-storey Rajput Polyester polythene bag factory near the Punjab provincial capital of Lahore after it came crashing down on Wednesday evening, trapping dozens of people inside.

But hopes were fading for anyone left alive as rescuers scrabbled through the debris.

"We have recovered up to 23 dead bodies and more than 100 injured so far. There are less chances of finding more injured under the rubble but we are looking for dead bodies," Arshad Zia, head of rescue services in Punjab, told AFP.

Soldiers and rescuers were preparing to clear the rubble in front of the factory and move towards the rear of the building where they fear they will discover more victims.

"We expect to find at least 25 more dead bodies in that part of the factory," Zia said.

It was unclear how many people were in the building when it collapsed or how many -- dead or alive -- may still be trapped, but officials have said at least 150 people were in the factory when it came down.

Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif has said the factory may have suffered structural damage in the October 26 quake which killed almost 400 people across Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Provincial labour minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar said that an enquiry into the collapse "is being conducted and we will probe all angles", with a report to be submitted within two weeks.

At least 24 people died last year when a mosque collapsed in the same city, while more than 200 people lost their lives, mostly due to collapsed roofs, following torrential rain and flooding in 2014.

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