SIALKOT - Three disabled children of a local trader were burnt to death in a gas cylinders explosion took place in his refilling shop at Tailiyaanwala Galla locality here on Thursday.

Malik Ilyas had been running the illegal business of gas cylinders re-filling and oil and petrol sale in his two shops with his residence at the upper storey of these shops in Daska city’s congested residential Tailiyaanwala Galla locality.

Rescue 1122 officials said that the shop was located in an only two-feet wide street in that residential area and it created big hurdles in conducting firefighting operation. Police said that the fire erupted there due to the leakage of gas form some cylinders kept in the shop and short-circuit of electricity.

According to the local people and eye witnesses, the fire erupted in the shop after a big explosion of some gas cylinders. The explosion was heard everywhere in Daska city and in its surroundings. Later, the huge flames of the fire engulfed the shops and the trader’s house. Two nearby houses and two other shops were also gutted in the inferno.

Lubna (32), Shehbaz Ahme (22) and Aiman Kausar (16) were asleep at their home when the fire erupted. They were completely burnt to death. The deceased were mentally and physically disabled.

The Rescue 1122 officials shifted the bodies to Daska Civil Hospital for autopsy. According to the spokesperson of Rescue 1122 Sialkot Muhammad Asad, nine vehicles including ambulances of Rescue 1122 were rushed to the spot in Daska city and participated in this midnight firefighting operation. District Emergency Officer (DEO) Syed Kamal Abid supervised the operation. The firefighters extinguished the fire after five hours struggle.

Police said that all the surrounding houses were also got evacuated at midnight to control the situation. The Rescue 1122 officials said that there were more than 35 gas cylinders there in the refilling shop and oil and petrol selling shop, out of which some cylinders exploded and the shop and house caught fire.

They said, “The flames of the fire were touching the sky which didn’t allow anyone to reach the burnt house to rescue the three brothers and sisters.”

There were loud screaming of the local people who were also running out of their houses in emergency. Daska city police have not yet registered a case, saying that no one had yet submitted an application for registration of case.

The three victims were laid to rest in Shaheedaan Graveyard at Daska city, amid sobs and tears. A large number of the people from all walks of life attended their funeral. Several gloomy and mourning scenes were witnessed when the three dead bodies were lifted together for their burial.

All the shops, bazaars and markets remained closed in Daska city’s commercial hub Sambrial Road to mourn the tragedy.

Meanwhile, Daska police claimed that five separate cases had already been registered against the trader for running illegal business of gas cylinders and petrol in his shop for the last several years in Daska city’s congested residential Tailiyaanwala Galla locality. But, the police added, every time he was bailed by the courts in these cases.

The local people said that they had repeatedly brought the dangerous situation into the notice of Daska Administration and Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA). People have strongly criticised the Daska TMA and Daska Administration for not taking stern legal action against the accused.

The illegal business was on allegedly under the nose of administration. These shops are located in Daska city’s congested Nisbat Road, Wadala Road, Awami Road, Pasrur Road, Afghan Road, Kutchery Road, Fawara Chowk, Jaamkey Road, College Road, Wazirabad Road, Civil Chowk and Lorry Adda.

On the other hand, Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have taken note of the Daska tragedy. They have sought detailed report from the district administration.