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    Accidents & Disasters

    8,800 wounded, 154 died in burning incidents

    KABUL (PAN): Over the past nine months, nearly 9,000 people have sought medical help for burns and 154 have died from their injuries, according to three hospitals which specialise in burns in Afghanistan.

    The Istiqlal hospital and Indira Gandhi children’s hospital in Kabul and the Herat burns and plastic surgery hospital say that the most common causes of burns are gas canister explosions, hurricane lamps, children falling in the kiln, scalding from overturned boiling water and electric shocks.

    Dr. Ahmad Shah Wazir, head of burns at Istiqlal hospital said 6,000 patients had been referred to the hospital over the past nine months and that 46 had died.

    Dr. Noorulhaq Yousufzai, head of the Indira Gandhi hospital, said 420 children had been brought to the hospital with burns and that 28 had died.

    At the Herat burns and plastic surgery hospital, Dr. Mohammad Arif Jalali, said they had received 2,500 patients with burns and that 80 had died.

    The doctors said most people suffered burns because of theirs or others’ carelessness.

    Khalil Ahmad, a resident of Jawzjan, said his 20-year-old sister was seriously burned when a gas canister exploded in their home. She has been at Istiqlal hospital for 20 days. “Our gas canister had been leaking for a few days, if we had repaired it, our sister wouldn’t be suffering like this.”

    Qamar, 35, a resident of Shakar Dara district of Kabul, was burned when her steam pot exploded. She blames herself for the accident.

     “I put a lighted match to the steamer pot so it would cook faster. It was not more than 30 minutes before the pot blew up. I fainted and when I recovered I found myself here in bed,” she said while receiving treatment at Istiqlal hospital.

    While accidents do happen, some people who suffer say that the quality of fuel is also a contributing factor to explosions.

    Bibi Ashrafi, a resident of Marja district of Helmand province, said her daughter was burned when a hurricane lamp exploded. “My daughter did nothing wrong. When she wanted to light the lamp, it exploded.”

    Ashrafi said the cause of the explosion was that the lamp was filled with low quality fuel.

    Mujib Urahman Khatir, deputy technical adviser at the national standards administration, said it was true that there was some poor quality fuel in the market, but said it was imported into the country illegally.

    There is only one laboratory to test the quality of fuel for the whole country, and that is located in Hairatan, a border town in northern Balkh province. However, Khatir said that fuel is imported across many other borders too. He said there was a push to set up other labs which could test fuel quality, but gave no other details.