Two more Pakistani Christians perish in a bid to unblock a sewer, without wearing proper safety gear. These men namely Saqib Masih and Mushtaq Masih were asked by their supervisor to unblock a sewer that was blocked for almost a year.
The incident unfolded on May 23, when 19-year-old Saqib and 45-year-old Mushtaq both employed as sewage workers were called by their supervisor early in the morning. Their supervisor directed them to clear a blocked sewer. Both men were asked to perform the task without safety gear.
This unfortunate incident occurred in Chichawatni a town in District Bahawalnagar in Punjab province. Sewer gas is generally a mixture of inorganic gases created by the action of anaerobic bacteria on the sewage and sludge. This gas can contain hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen, and hydrogen. Hydrogen sulfide is a toxic gas and if a person were to enter a tunnel or deep hole that contained sewage undergoing anaerobic breakdown without proper safety gear, it is more likely that he could become poisoned.
The sewer cleaners are not provided with proper gear so that the workers do not inhale the poisonous gasses in the pit. Cleaners go down in the holes holding their breath and clean the sewer. In doing so, these sewage workers get paralyzed in case they inhale the gasses. Many workers have lost their lives due to inhalation of sewer gasses as they lack proper safety gear.
After the news of the deaths of Saqib and Mushtaq spread, locals staged protests against the negligence displayed in this regard. The Civil administration paid for the funerals of both the Christian workers in order to pacify the demonstrators.
Similar incidents have occurred when sewer workers perished due to inhalation of sewer gasses. In January this year, a Christian sewage worker died in Karachi as he inhaled sewer gas while cleaning a sewer. Last year, another Christian sewer worker died when he fell unconscious due to inhalation of the poisonous gas and was taken to a local hospital for medical treatment. The doctor denied him treatment maintaining that he would not touch him because this us Christian sewage worker died when a succession of doctors refused to touch him because this would make them unclean during fasting.