11 perish as massive fire sweeps through Karachi shopping mall
Dozens of shops destroyed: Building neither has fire-fighting equipment installed nor any emergency exit
By News Desk
November 25, 2023 09:58 AM
As many as 11 people died and dozens were injured after a heavy fire swept through a shopping mall in Karachi on Saturday morning, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
The blaze suddenly broke out on second floor of the building but very soon it spread to fourth, fifth and sixth floors of multi-storey RJ Mall, a shopping centre located on Rashid Minhas Road.
According to fire brigade authorities, a faulty generator placed on the roof of the shopping centre was the cause of the fire.
Rescue officials said that two vehicles of the fire brigade were busy extinguishing the flames while two more fire tenders and a snorkel were rushed to the spot after receiving information about the fire. Later the number of fire-fighting vehicles rose to 10 including two snorkels and eight fire tenders
More than 50 people were rescued from the burning building but a number of people were still trapped inside, said rescue officials. The injured people were shifted to a nearby hospital where condition of eight them was said to be serious.
An emergency was declared in Jinnah Hospital as an unspecified number of people were still stuck inside the shopping centre.
Due to the smoke filling the upper floors of the building, rescue personnel faced difficulties in carrying out the relief operation. Later, the fire spread to the lower floors of the building, said the fire-fighters.
The rescue officials later said the fire was brought under control to a great extent and the cooling process was underway on one of the floors.
Dozens of shops in the building were reduced to ashes due to the blaze which was brought under control after three hours of hectic efforts.
The chief fire-fighting officer said there was no fire-fighting equipment installed in the building, nor there was any emergency exit.
According to AFP, more than 60 people were inside the mall when the fire broke out on the fourth floor of the six-storey buildin. "Our rescue workers have taken 11 dead bodies to hospitals so far," said Shahid Hussain, a spokesman for the Chippa welfare organisation, which runs a rescue service.
He said 35 people were injured, with seven of them in serious condition. "At least 40 people have been rescued," he added.
Shabbir Ali, a Sindh health ministry spokesperson confirmed the death toll and number of injured persons.
Hussain said the fire was started by a generator short-circuit and spread to engulf two floors of the building.
Poor safety laws and building codes as well as lax enforcement mean fires in large buildings are frequent in Pakistan.
In 2012, at least 250 labourers died at a garment factory in Baldia Town, in western Karachi, when a fire engulfed the facility. The building had no fire escape.
Reporter: Shazaib Hussain