Was any one at the incident scene today?
Gakhar Plaza situated on Bank Road in Rawalpindi caught fire and collapsed on itself. Unfortunately, many of the fire fighters and rescuers were still inside and were trapped/crushed under the rubble.
I returned just now from the incident location and it was a very revealing experience looking into the mechanisms in play on such incidents. There was gross mismanagement from the official authorities, lack of equipment or incomplete equipment, politics and credit wrangling and stupid crowd being an obstacle.
Perhaps, the most painful thing to see was the credit whoring by some Army personnel. I saw numerous times when the 1122 Rescue service workers found signs of a body and as soon as news spread, some Army major or Colonel came barging in, took control of the equipment and Army men started coming in hoards surrounding the scene and kicking out 1122 staff who had already set up a perimeter and were searching for survivors. The men operating the bulldozers and other heavy machinery had no idea how to proceed and what were the areas of key importance to tackle first and foremost. Overall, it was very disappointing. It was extremely sad when broken mangled bodies of the valiant fire fighters and rescue workers, who lost their lives trying to save the lives of others, were brought out dripping blood and one even having a cracked skull.
The media was extremely irresponsible and was constantly creating obstructions in the way of the rescue workers. One fool even went into a narrow recess after a coordinator for our team (DPART Pakistan) went in to snap some pictures of a dead body. That was a gross risk to everyone who was working inside to get the body out. They even violated rules regarding cordoning off of the affected areas and crossed the cordon line without any regard to the safety of the rescue workers and them working to get out people crushed under the concrete.
Despite what I stated above, there were some excellent individuals from the Army and Rescue 1122 who worked very hard with us and helped all along the way. It was refreshing to see such cooperation but it was disappointingly limited in scale.
I will post some pics which I took later. If anyone else was there, please share your experience(s).