Karachi's shopping mall inferno death toll rises to five
Fire erupts in upholstery foam shop in Karachi mall, engulfs adjoining Ayesha Manzil
KARACHI (Dunya News) – The death toll in Karachi's shopping mall fire rose to five as one of the trapped people was found dead by rescuers on Thursday.
Four people perished after a fire erupted in one of the shops located in Arshi Shopping Mall adjoining Ayesha Manzil in a Karachi Central neighbourhood on Wednesday, according to police and rescuers.
The mayor of Karachi, who was present at the site and overseeing the rescue efforts, confirmed the death of three people. Another person was found dead later.
Wahab, in a post on X, formerly Twitter, mentioned the discovery of a 'third dead body’.
— Murtaza Wahab Siddiqui (@murtazawahab1) December 6, 2023
In a previous post, Wahab said that two individuals with 'severe burn injuries' had been transferred to Civil Hospital. It remains unclear whether these individuals are among the deceased.
Fire Brigade officials said nine fire tenders, one bowser and a snorkel were deployed to extinguish the fire, with assistance from firefighters of the Pakistan Navy.
Earlier on Nov 25, at least 11 people lost their lives when a massive fire swept through six-story RJ Shopping Mall in Karachi's Gulistan-e-Johar area, prompting Sindh’s caretaker Chief Minister Justice (r) Maqbool Baqar to order a safety audit of commercial and government buildings across the province in a bid to avert such tragedies in the future.
Wednesday's fire originated in an upholstery foam shop on the mall's ground floor and rapidly spread, engulfing the five-storey residential building, Ayesha Manzil.
Police officials attributed the cause of the fire to a short circuit.
SSP Central Faisal Abdullah said the fire quickly reached the top floor of Ayesha Manzil, prompting police to evacuate the entire residential building.
The mall's ground floor reportedly houses cosmetics, cloth and upholstery foam shops which evidently intensified the fire.
Although the extent of damages is yet to be estimated, rescuers noted that approximately 50 shops were gutted, with goods worth millions of rupees reduced to ashes.
Mayor Wahab assured that the media would be informed about the damages after the rescue operation concludes.
The facade of the residential building Ayesha Manzil, along with several residential flats, had been completely burnt. The fire also damaged vehicles parked outside the building.
A shopkeeper from the shopping mall said that one fire tender arrived at the site within ten minutes of the incident. He added that the remaining Fire Brigade vehicles were stuck in traffic, emphasising that if they had promptly reached the scene, the fire would not have spread.
The shopkeeper also said that the shopping mall lacked adequate safety measures and features.
Sindh's caretaker Chief Minister Justice (r) Maqbool Baqar promptly took notice of the incident and instructed relevant authorities to utilise all available resources to douse the fire.
The CM also ordered a probe into the incident.
A statement issued by his spokesperson stated that the inquiry committee would be led by the Karachi commissioner. “This committee will probe the cause of the fire and the negligence of officials.”
He said the committee would submits its report and recommendations to the chief minister within three days.