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No expectation for casualties of Gadani oil tanker fire

The victims of the Gadani incident being treated at Civil hospital’s burns centre are hoping for a miracle, as doctors believe they will not survive their injuries.

Senior resident medical officer Dr Greesh Kumar told The Express Tribune that, “Generally, those who have more than 20% burns are in a very critical state and have a very little chance of survival”.

He said that they are currently treating five patients who have 100% burns on their bodies. One patient with 100% burns died on the first day of treatment, while the others have 90%, 60%, 40% and 26% burns.

 Thirty-two-year-old Alam Khan, a resident of Gadani Mor, is also among the injured being treated at the hospital. He suffered 100% burns in the accident and his entire body was covered in bandages, leaving only his face visible beneath the white swaths. Though he was able to speak, his words were a reflection of the misery he suffered. Despite having no idea what will happen to him in the coming days, he thanked the men on the fishing boards that jumped into the sea to rescue him and his fellow workers.

In a morose statement, Dr Kumar said patients who are suffering from such severe burns have no hope and only prayers could save their lives. He explained that patients with third degree burns lose protein and thus develops septicemia, a severe infection of the blood, which is the reason why they cannot survive beyond a few days. He said the patients are in extreme pain.

People with wounds like these are given high protein diets with proper washing and physiotherapy to reduce their misery for as long as they live, he explained. Dr Kumar added that often the patients collapse while eating or drinking.

“It was my first day at work when this horrific fire erupted on the ship. I won’t even go close to a ship or sea if I survive my injuries,” vowed Muhammad Gul Akhtar, a 23-year-old resident of the Orangi Town.

Akhtar, who has been suffering 26% burns, said he is the eldest son and therefore his family’s bread-earner.

On Monday evening he reached Gadani with his paternal uncle and one of his friends. On Tuesday it was his first day of work, when the incident occurred. He remarked that there was panic everywhere and everyone was worried about their loved ones. “I was concerned about my uncle and my friend; I later came to know that my friend died and the body of my uncle is still missing,” he said. Akhtar was taken via ambulance to Hub Chowki for first aid and was then shifted to Civil hospital.

On Tuesday, Manzoor was among one of the luckiest workers on the ship. However, his fellow workers, especially his family members, were not as lucky. On Tuesday he went to Hub to buy food for the entire party when the deadly fire broke out, leaving dozens dead.

His nephew, Mumtaz, who is fighting for his life, is suffering from 100% burns. “The critical condition of my nephew has left me and my entire family back in Punjab in distress,” he said. “I’m uneducated but I know that Mumtaz is not going to survive more than a few days and I think that was our fate,” he lamented.

Dr Kumar explained that patients suffering from injuries to their windpipes and lungs due to smoke inhalation often suffer from collapsed lungs due to inhaling the smoke, which is another reason why it is so difficult for burn patients to survive.

He said the first step in treating burns is to rinse the area with water, since it prevents the wound from becoming too deep. He was of the view that the water also protects the muscles, arteries, nerves and tendons from further damage.

The head of burns center Dr Ehmer-Al-Ibran said that 29 patients were reported in their burns centre, out of which 10 were admitted and others were discharged after receiving initial treatment.

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