LAHORE, Feb 21: As many as 22 children and a teacher suffered burns in a gas fire explosion in a school near Akhri Bus Stop in Shahdara Town on Thursday. Police and the education department sealed the school owned by Mian Muhammad Shaukat, who escaped the scene.
Rescue 1122 said in its preliminary findings that the blaze erupted due to the gas leaking from a heater in a classroom, which was full of students of class-I at the time of the incident in the morning.
Among the injured were girls and boys aged 6 to 8. They were transported to Mayo Hospital by Rescue 1122 and Edhi Foundation ambulances.
The inured students were identified as Hooria Tanveer (7), Sufa Shahid (6), Khadija Nasir (6), Rubab Imran (6), Eman Liaquat (6), Lareb Tanveer (8), Momina Tahir (7), Zainab Waheed (7), Zebi Asif, Minhail Rizwan, Fiza Liaquat, Reen Shahid, Hannan Aslam, Umer Shahid (8), Ali Sher (6), Fateen Shabbir (8), Usman Mubashir (6), Furqan Akbar, Mujtaba Tauqeer, Haram Faisal, Hareem Saim and Ashar Kamran. The injured teacher was identified as Maryam Munir.
Malik Waqar of Shahdara Town, whose son Jibran Waqar suffered a minor injury in an attempt to escape the fire, said the watchman who would sleep in the classroom forgot to turn off the heater in the morning. He said as the class teacher and some children smelled gas in the classroom, they called a watchman who lit the heater instead of evacuating children from the room.
Waqar said the three-storey school on one kanal land had only one entry-exit point. He said panicked parents rushed to the hospital after they learnt about the incident.
Rescue 1122 District Emergency Officer Dr Ahmad Raza told Dawn that a heater installed on the wall in a classroom of Dar-e-Arqam school exploded after a staff member lit a match or a light button sparked. He said the gas had already filled the room and this resulted in the explosion. The fire was controlled in a few minutes.
He said four Rescue 1122 ambulances and two fire-tenders were dispatched to the scene and all students with 10 to 30 per cent of their bodies burnt were shifted to the hospital.
City SP (Operations) Multan Khan said a case under Section 324 of the PPC had been registered against the school owner and the management, but no arrest had been made yet.