Pakistan: 11 Dead as Fire Engulfs Shopping Mall in Karachi

On Saturday at a shopping mall in Karachi, Pakistan, a fire claimed the lives of 11 people and left at least 35 injured. The fire engulfed the fourth floor of the six storey RJ Mall, resulting in a quick response from rescue and health workers.

Pakistan: 11 Dead as Fire Engulfs Shopping Mall in Karachi

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Videos of the incident circulated on social media showcasing the valiant efforts of rescue and health workers aiding the victims amidst the chaos.

According to Shahid Hussain, a spokesperson for the Chippa welfare organization, 11 casualties were confirmed, and the injured were rushed to hospitals.

Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab Siddiqui reported nine casualties, with seven bodies transferred to Jinnah Hospital and one each to Civil and Abbasi Shaheed Hospitals. The toll later rose to 11 as rescue operations continued.

Rescue workers managed to save approximately 40 people from the engulfing flames, with Hussain stating that 35 individuals were injured, seven of them in critical condition. The severity of the injuries shows the challenges faced by both victims and rescuers during the incident.

As the city struggles with the aftermath the cause of the fire remains unclear. Speculation on social media has led to blaming the administration for the incident.

One user pointed out the lack of fire exits in the poorly constructed mall, while another claimed the fire started on the third floor and spread to higher levels.

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Murtaza Wahab Siddiqui mentioned on social media that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Fire Department had confirmed nine casualties and that the search process was ongoing.

The mayor said the efforts to control the fire and assured the public that investigations into the incident would be conducted.

Pakistan has witnessed several fire-related disasters in the past, on issues related to safety laws, building codes, and their enforcement. The country had challenges in implementing preventive measures, leading to fires in large buildings.

In 2012 a garment factory fire in Baldia Town, Karachi, claimed the lives of at least 250 workers due to the absence of fire escapes.

In April of the current year a fire tore through a Karachi garment factory, resulting in the deaths of four firefighters. In August 2021, another fire at a chemical factory in Karachi took the lives of at least 10 people.

Experts have criticized the lax enforcement of safety laws and building codes in Pakistan. Reports suggest that many structures, including residential, commercial, and industrial buildings in Karachi, lack proper fire prevention and firefighting systems.

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This criminal negligence, as described by city planners and engineers, puts the lives of millions at risk. The events had discussions on the role of regulatory bodies, such as the Sindh Building Control Authority, in the safety of structures.

The need for accountability and urgent action to address safety gaps in building regulations has become a point of this incident.

The challenges faced by fire departments in Pakistan have also come to the forefront. Understaffing equipment have hampered the ability of these departments to respond effectively to disasters.

The need for bolstering firefighting capabilities sufficient resources for first responders is evident. The recurrence of fire incidents in large buildings in Pakistan questions about the safety laws and building codes.

The lax enforcement of regulations becomes evident in the frequency of such tragic events. Earlier this year, a garment factory fire and, in 2021 a chemical factory fire in Karachi claimed lives and exposed the safety infrastructure.

With citizens demanding accountability from regulatory bodies like the Sindh Building Control Authority. Reports a lack of fire prevention and firefighting systems in many structures in Karachi have led to accusations of criminal negligence.

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