11 dead as fire engulfs multi-storey mall in Pak's Karachi city

11 dead as fire engulfs multi-storey mall in Pak's Karachi city

Karachi, Nov 25 (PTI) A massive fire tore through a shopping mall in Pakistan's Karachi city on Saturday, killing at least 11 people and injuring six, officials said.

The fire that broke out at around 7 am on the second floor engulfed the fourth, fifth and sixth floors of the shopping mall, but it was not clear what caused it.

Twelve fire tenders, a snorkel and around 50 firefighters were called to control the fire and rescue around 42 people in the building.

Chief Fire Officer Mubin Ahmed said that 11 people were killed and six injured in the blaze mostly due to smoke inhalation and panic as the electricity to the building had to be cut off to control the blaze.

Karachi Fire Rescue Commander Humayun Khan said the fire was probably caused by a short circuit.

Taking to X, Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab said, 'Fire has been extinguished & cooling process is going on. I can so far confirm 10 casualties & 22 persons have been injured.' However, police official Summaya Syed said that so far 11 bodies have been brought to two hospitals.

Nine bodies were brought to Jinnah Hospital while 2 others were taken to Civil Hospital, she said, adding that the condition of 6 of those rescued was critical.

Mubin said they were still investigating the reason for the fire but just earlier this week, city planners and engineers at a seminar said they were sure some 90 per cent of structures in Karachi - residential, commercial and industrial - did not have fire prevention and firefighting systems.

They agreed that it was “criminal negligence” on the part of regulatory bodies like the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) that put the lives of millions of people in the metropolis at risk.

“The shopping centre did not have a fire extinguishing system. Being centrally air-conditioned, there was no way for the air to escape,” he added.

Mubin said the mall’s building has caught fire for the second time. “Two years ago there was a fire in the same building,” he said.

A senior police official of the area, Raja Tariq said the building was a commercial high-rise that housed shopping centres, call centres and software houses.

A statement from the Fire and Rescue spokesperson said the fire had since been controlled and the cooling process was now underway.

Tariq also said that last year a smaller fire broke out in the same mall but was controlled quickly and was caused by short-circuiting.

Sindh Caretaker Chief Minister Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar has expressed regret over the loss of life in the wake of the deadly fire.

The chief minister has ordered urgent measures to control the fire and has asked for the injured to be provided immediate medical aid.

Karachi Deputy Commissioner Salim Rajput visited the site and ordered an inquiry into the incident.

“The buildings lacking security arrangements will be sealed. From tomorrow, all the deputy commissioners will collect data on buildings in their areas,” he said, ordering for action to be taken after the collection of records within 30 days. “Legal action will be taken against those responsible,” he added.

At a recent annual symposium of the Fire Protection Association of Pakistan (FPAP) in Karachi, experts said that around 12,000 to 15,000 people die in hundreds of fire incidents in the country every year, in which losses of hundreds of billions are also incurred due to violation of building codes, unavailability of fire safety arrangements, and lack of training and awareness among people. PTI CORR AMS SCY AKJ SCY SCY

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