A fire ravaged Faiz Mohammad Daryani Chandio village, approximately 30 kilometers from the town of Mehar in the Dadu district, on Monday evening and devastated all 50 houses. Nine children died and over 20 others suffered severe burns. Around 150 buffaloes, cows, goats, and other animals also perished in the fire.
According to news reports, a fire erupted in the kitchen of a thatched house around 9 pm. Due to the dry weather and strong winds, the fire soon engulfed the entire village comprising around 70 thatched houses.
It raged for about 12 hours during which time the residents repeatedly called the local administration for help. The officials, however, did not respond and reportedly refused to send fire tenders as no government official had reached the affected area.
It was only when the Sindh chief minister took notice and instructed the deputy commissioner to provide “all possible assistance and support” that a lone fire tender reached the village the next day. By then, nine children had perished and four others had received critical burn injuries.
The fire also caused heavy financial damage to the villagers, most of whom are subsistence farmers. Besides all their personal belongings, most of their cattle and food stock were also reduced to ashes, rendering them without any means of sustenance.
According to the affected families, no fire tenders reached the village until it subsided at 8 am in the morning. In two other similar incidents of fire within the district, over 60 houses were destroyed and dozens of animals perished.
Sindh CM announces compensation
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah admitted on Thursday that the response to the village fire in Dadu district on April 18 was “very slow” and vowed to punish whoever was responsible.
Shah shared that at his instruction, the chief secretary formed a committee under the supervision of the home secretary to determine the reasons behind the delayed response. “I have given [them] three to seven days to present that report. Whoever was responsible will be punished,” he insisted.
He said the provincial government would rebuild all the houses damaged by the fire, adding that the special assistant of the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Housing Programme had also visited the village. In addition, the provincial government would also provide compensation for the lives and animals lost, he said, vowing to “look after them (affected people) completely”.
He shared that he called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif earlier in the day, adding that the premier announced the federal government would contribute Rs10 million for relief efforts. Separately, PM Shehbaz directed authorities to conduct a complete investigation into the incident.
Had the district administration bothered to respond to the desperate calls of residents sooner, the damage could have been limited. While the government has promised to assist the affected families, they should also ensure that those officials who ignored citizens’ cries for help are punished.
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