Islamabad, June 26, 2014 (PPI-OT): On the instructions of Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan, Aviation Division Islamabad constituted a three member committee headed by Air Commodore Noor Elahi Bajwa for facts finding on fire incident in Gerry’s Dnata Cargo Complex after Karachi Airport attack in the night of 8th and 9th June, 2014. The committee submitted its report on 25th June, 2014 to Aviation Division which is paced below.
1. A regrettable tragedy occurred between the night of 8th and 9th June, 2014 when the terrorist attacked the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi (Terminal-1) which resulted into loss of precious lives and property due to terrorism and subsequent fire in premises of Gerry’s Dnata Cargo Complex.
2. An impression was created that the loss of precious lives in fire incident occurred due to mismanagement of authorities as it was claimed that the Search and Rescue operation started 24 hours after the incident.
3. The Government of Pakistan took notice of the same and on immediate basis appointed an independent committee headed by Air Commodore Noor Elahi Bajwa with Mr. Bashir Jan Muhammad and Mr. Ahmed Chinoy as members to investigate into the circumstances under which 08 precious lives were lost in the Gerry’s Dnata Cargo Complex.
The Government also assigned the responsibility to committee to investigate for negligence(s), if any, and to suggest remedial measures so that such unfortunate occurrences are avoided in future.
4. The committee started working from 12th June, 2014 till 20th June, 2014 and worked selflessly for around 14 hours a day to address the issues.
5. The committee interviewed numerous personnel and agencies which included; the authorities of Civil Aviation, airport management, ASF, Rangers, Army, Police, cargo handlers/agencies, the personnel who could save their lives on that day and relatives of victims, who have been in touch with them during the course of incident.
6. The committee also went through the records of mobile phones of the relatives / families of the victims to whom they have been communicating from time to time during the incident.
7. The committee also went through the communication records of various agencies like Cargo agencies and Airport etc.
8. The committee, first of all feels aggrieved upon the loss of valuable and innocent lives including ASF and Cargo employees. Committee also conveys heartfelt condolence towards families of 08 victims and other gallantry people who sacrificed their lives and saved the Airport from a bigger calamity.
9. It is also noted that the loss would have been much more if the security agencies like ASF, Police, Rangers and Pak Army would have not played their effective role in time.
10. The committee salutes the persons who not only saved the Airport but also saved the country from a lot bigger losses and catastrophe.
11. The committee went into the details of all the matters, the impression of media was created that the deaths have occurred after 24 hours of the incident and people were trapped in cold storage, but committee concluded that no death was occurred in cold storage and in fact cold storage is far away from the actual place of casualties.
12. The committee interviewed all the relevant people around the fire site and came to the conclusion that these 08 personnel were unfortunately trapped in Gerry’s Dnata Cargo Office. While those who managed to escape, made themselves hide at safe locations away from Gerry’s Cargo Complex.
13. The committee found that information about cold storage was miscounted and was completely incorrect. The committee went into the details that those 08 persons were actually trapped inside the office of Gerry’s Dnata Cargo Complex.
This has also been confirmed from the various agencies like ASF, Police, Rangers and Army as well. Therefore, the impression about cold storage was not correct and misleading for the rescue team. Moreover, the bodies were also found from the office of Gerry’s Dnata Cargo Complex which was located 150 feet away from the cold storage area.
14. The committee learnt initially from the media that death of those people occurred after the 24 hours of the incident, even it was said that deaths were occurred after 1600 hours next day (10-06-14). The committee examined the evidences and called the doctors from Jinnah Hospital where the post mortems were carried out.
Committee also called up the families of the victims, interviewed them and asked about the phone calls and it was confirmed from all the evidences like phone records obtained through Citizens’ Police Liaison Committee of relatives / families. Doctors / post mortem reports also confirm that last death was occurred before 0200 hours on 09-06-2014.
15. Then the committee went into the circumstances whether this could have been avoided? The committee went deep into the fire fighters domain, recorded their in-detail interviews and closely examined the CCTV footage of the incident to inquire the efficiency of fire tender facilities and it was clearly proved that the fire tender reached at the site of incident at 2325 hours on 08 June, 2014, when the first sign of fire was reported but when the fire tender reached the site of incident, the terrorists opened fire at them and they had to retreat.
Out of four bullets fired, one hit on the hand of fire fighter, while remaining hit the wind screen of fire tender. The second attempt to extinguish the fire was made at 0215 hours on 09 June, 2014 which was again called off due to the firing from the terrorists.
Finally the fire fighting started at 0345 hours on 09 June, 2014. The committee asked the fire fighting agencies that why they had not made any attempt during the 2325 hours to 0215 hours to 0345 hours which could have been better, but committee was told that the area was not cleared by the security agencies and there was fear of firing and the terrorists could have thrown grenades.
Resulting into more loss as fire fighters were not equipped or dressed with any life saving uniforms nor any cover of security, but despite all they made attempts of fire fighting even under fire from terrorists. The committee acknowledges the efforts of fire fighters.
16. Committee also inquired the reasons that why fire was so intense. Committee, through forensic lab, examined that the contents stored in the cargo warehouse, which revealed that it included lithium batteries of mobile phones in huge quantity, which actually added fuel to the fire remained basic cause of fire spread. Moreover, presence of dangerous goods and other materials was also instrumental spreading of fire.
17. Committee intend to highlight here that though efforts were made by all the agencies like ASF, Fire Fighters, CAA but they were not equipped to handle such sort of exceptional circumstances, which prevailed not only in Karachi but throughout the country.
The committee also noted that though airport was already under threat, but on the contrary the authorities and cargo handling agents were neither trained nor equipped to handle such emergencies unlike modern airports of the developed countries.
18. The committee has also suggested pertinent measures for the Government and authority to take appropriate steps to avoid such incidents in future.
19. The committee finally concludes that there should be a designated department for handling emergencies of this sort and help create preconditions favourable for the safety of personnel and infrastructure.
The committee hopes that Government and authority concerned will implement these guidelines to avoid such incidents as the country is already in warlike situation and undergoing difficult time. Committee also hopes that all concerned departments/authorities would play their role more effectively to avoid recurrence of this nature.
20. Committee feels that there is no substitute of human lives and the losses endured by the families cannot be measured. Committee, therefore, has recommended suitable compensation for the deceased families and also advised the owner of Gerry’s Dnata Cargo to do the needful in this time of need and also to look into the possibility of providing job opportunity for their immediate family member.
Committee also hopes that Government of Pakistan and authorities shall also compensate the victims. Besides, some of the Gerry’s Dnata employees, though could save their lives miraculously, but have undergone a major trauma of their lifetime. At present they are mentally shocked, while some of them have got injuries too, therefore, they may also be compensated and may accordingly be given health and rehabilitation coverage.
For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
Fax: +9251 925 2325 and +9251 925 2326
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