MULTAN - MUHAMMAD IRTAZA - At least six people, including two boys and a girl, died while 14 others were injured, when a cache of fireworks exploded in the Gur Mandia area of walled city on Saturday.

Two houses were also destroyed in the blast, while some shops caught fire.

The rescuers from 1122, Edhi, Fire Department and Civil Defence as well as police personnel launched a massive rescue and recovery operation, which was underway till filing of this report. The rescuers suspected that more bodies might be found from the debris.

Multan CPO Amir Zulfiqar Khan along with the officers of district administration rushed to the scene and supervised the rescue activities.

He suspended Kup Police Station SHO Arshad Abbas Qureshi, while the Punjab IGP passed similar orders for DSP Saadat Mehdi.

Despite the ban on the sale of fireworks, its trade is being is in full swing without any check in the walled city in broad daylight with the alleged support of concerned police.

The Rescue 1122 sources said the explosion took place in a fireworks warehouse set up owned by Zulfiqar and his wife Parveen in the ground floor of their house. The deceased included their daughter Tayeba (18) and son Amir (22), while other victims were identified as Raheel (17), Dilawar Qureshi (62), Ashfaq and Pervez.

Similarly, the injured included both Zulfiqar and Parveen and their son Dilawar. Other wounded persons are: Ayub, Akbari, Nawaz, Faizan, Salman, Ramzan, Zumran and Rukhsar.

An eyewitness said the explosion took place when a labourer handled a sack of fireworks carelessly and threw it on the ground. “They had received a big cache of fireworks from Lahore and a labourer was unloading the cart,” he added.

Talking to the journalists on the occasion, the CPO claimed that a strict action would be taken against those responsible for the tragedy.

He urged upon the citizens to support police and share information on such businesses. When asked how could anyone run any illicit business like this without the support of the area police, he said the SHO was suspended keeping in view this point.

Police sources disclosed that Zulfiqar, the husband of Parveen, was also taken into custody from the Nishtar Hospital.

Meanwhile, leading politician including PTI President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Sheikh Tariq Rasheed (MNA from the same constituency), Rana Mahmood-ul-Hassan MNA and provincial minister Haji Ehsanuddin Qureshi also visited the spot.

Talking to reporters, Hashmi regretted that many precious lives were lost in the tragedy, adding that a high-level inquiry must be launched into the incident. He said the Punjab government was responsible for the incident.

“A public inquiry committee should be formed to probe the incident and it should also investigate whether this business is being run under the patronage of any political umbrella,” he added.

Sheikh Tariq Rasheed said it was a tragedy and all-out efforts would be made to help the aggrieved families.