Gul Hamad Farooqi
CHITRAL: An unborn child was among the three people who died after a horrific fire destroyed a house in Chitral’s Ayun valley.
The fire was caused by the explosion of a gas-cylinder, as confirmed by the local police. Eight members of the family, including three women, were severely burnt by the flames that engulfed the house. Three members of the family died, including two children on the day of the incident. The injured were rushed to the District Headquarters Hospital located in Chitral town. However, the critically burnt patients could not get enough treatment and support because the The Burn, Trauma and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Center, established with the financial support of Patrip Foundation, is not operational three years after the construction was completed.
The centre was inaugurated by the commandant Chitral Scouts in September 2016, after a foreign donor organization raised millions of rupees for the burn centre. It was handed over to the district headquarters hospital in Chitral in April 2019. Due to lack of facilities and staff, the building is useless when it comes to treating patients; they continue to be referred to Peshawar, 365km away.
According to latest details, a woman named Gulshan Bibi, wife of Manzoor, and her son, Aayan, were the latest casualty of the fire, taking the total number of deaths to five. Three other members of the family continue to be under treatment in critical condition.
According to the hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Akbar Shah, the burn centre was officially opened in April, but the government has yet to hire specialized staff and equipment.
“We wanted to treat the victim of Ayun tragedy, but we do not have specialized staff at the burns centre,” he said. He added that 92 posts are vacant at the Center.
“Since we do not have intensive care unit for such [severely burnt] patients, we didn’t want to take any risk and referred them to Peshawar though we had tried our best to treat them here”, said Dr. Ijaz, another physician working at the hospital.
The residents of Chitral are shocked by the fire that has destroyed the family. The community is pooling resources to arrange transportation of the dead bodies from Peshawar, and to support the family in the long run.
Locals have also accused the provincial government of not doing enough to expedite the process of making the burns center functional.