LAHORE – The search and rescue operation has been completed almost 97-hour after the three-storey factory building collapsed at Multan Road, putting the death toll at 24.

“There were total 39 victims. We recovered at least 23 dead bodies from the debris apart from 16 injured who were pulled out alive.

One of the injured expired at the hospital later,” Farooq Ahmed, a spokesman of the Punjab Emergency Service (Rescue-1122) told reporters on Friday.

The medicine manufacturing factory–Orient Lab (Pvt) Limited – situated in Hassan Town had crumbled to the ground on Monday morning following a powerful explosion, presumably due to boiler or gas cylinders. It is still not clear what exactly caused the blast that brought down the badly constructed building in the congested residential area.

Among the dead were 18 female and six male victims. At least 16 persons were also wounded seriously in the tragedy including 9 male and seven female.

Taking suo moto notice of the unfortunate incident, the Supreme Court has summoned the chief secretary, inspector general of police Punjab and district administration to appear before the court.

A 65-year-old woman was pulled out alive from the debris after 32-hour while another man was rescued after 47 hours. However, he succumbed to his injuries at the hospital later. Rescue workers on Thursday intensified the operation to remove the debris as there were little chances of more victims, feared trapped under the wreckage.

Till Thursday evening, the rescuers recovered 22 dead bodies from the debris. Another man was recovered from the debris after Thursday midnight.

The rescuers used heavy machinery including two cranes during this operation. They also continued the operation during the night by fixing heavy lights around the site. Most of the employees at Orient Lab (Pvt) Limited, owned by Shiekh Zubair and Sheikh Zaheer, were underpaid children and elderly women.

According to local residents, they heard a huge and powerful explosion at around 8:30 am on Monday last, followed by hue and cry everywhere in the locality.

The deceased persons have been identified Tanveer, 12, Fozia Raza, 25, Salma Bibi, 28, Nasreen Sardar, 22, Muhammad Asif, 14, Ambreen Siddiqui, 20, Maryum Bibi, 55, Shakila Iqbal, 20, Aleesha, 16, Saria, 14, Shakeela Bibi, 24, Bashiran Bibi, 40, Asma, 18, Musarrat Bibi, 22, Ghulam Abbas, 25, Nadeem, 35, Khurshid Bibi, 60, Sakeena Bibi, 60, Ijaz, 51, Shazia, 39, and Shahnaz, 35.

The dead bodies of a 25-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy are yet to be identified.