10 dead, 22 injured in fire at Karachi’s commercial high-rise

KARACHI: Ten persons lost their lives while 22 other sustained injuries in a blaze at RJ Mall on Karachi’s Rashid Minhas Road on Saturday, Karachi mayor said.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Karachi Mayor Barrister Murtaza Wahab said, “I can so far confirm 10 casualties and 22 persons have been injured”.

He stated that the fire had been extinguished and the cooling process was under way.

Earlier, police surgeon Summaiya Syed informed that nine bodies have been brought to hospitals — eight at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and one at Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK). Wahab said one was also brought to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

She further said that an 18-year-old was currently admitted at CHK.

District East Deputy Commissioner (DC) Altaf Shaikh, who was personally supervising the rescue operation, said 30 others, including the wounded, were rescued.

The DC added that the building had been cleared up to the fourth floor while clearance of the fifth floor was under way. He said the exact cause of the fire would be ascertained after a proper probe once the rescue operation was completed.

Sharea Faisal Station House Officer (SHO) Raja Tariq Mehmood said the building was a commercial high-rise, housing shopping centres, call centres and software houses.

A statement from the Fire and Rescue spokesperson said they were alerted about the incident at 6:30am, after which eight fire tenders, two snorkels and two bowsers were sent.

Sindh Inspector General (IG) Riffat Mukhtar had issued directives to District East’s senior superintendent of police to take every possible step to rescue those trapped inside the building. He also ordered that the road be cleared so that fire brigades could reach there without any hassle.

Caretaker Sindh Chief Minister Justice (rtd) Maqbool Baqar took notice of the incident and issued directives for the injured to be provided medical aid immediately.

He expressed grief on the loss of lives of “six people” and directed the city commissioner to rescue the trapped persons safely. The chief minister stated that the responsibility for “people’s lives and belongings was of the government”.

Wahab also offered his condolences on the incident. In a statement, the mayor said fire brigade officials had rescued dozens of people safely and highlighted that there was no emergency exit present in the building.

He asserted that a “complete investigation” would be conducted on the matter.

Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori said he has sought a report on the incident from the city commissioner.

Earlier this week, city planners and engineers said they were sure some 90 per cent of all 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.

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