Four killed, several deaths feared as fire engulfs multi-storey mall in Pakistan's Karachi city

The fire started at a furniture store and quickly engulfed other shops on the ground floor of the building known as Ayesha Manzil, said Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab.
Firefighters struggle to contain a fire at a multi-story commercial building in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023. (Photo | AP)
Firefighters struggle to contain a fire at a multi-story commercial building in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023. (Photo | AP)

KARACHI: Four people were killed and two others injured on Wednesday evening when a fire broke out in a shopping and residential mall in Pakistan's Karachi city.

TV footage showed billowing into the sky as flames engulfed parts of the building. The cause of the fire was not immediately clear and officers said they were still investigating.

Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab confirmed that three burnt bodies have been recovered so far from the building situated in the Ayesha Manzil area.

However, a senior police official said four bodies have been sent to civil hospital, while two persons who suffered burn wounds are undergoing treatment at the hospital.

Television channels showed black smoke and flames emanating from the building, located in a congested residential and commercial area of Karachi.

Fire brigade department official Humayun Khan said the fire apparently started on the ground floor and quickly spread to three other floors. "The Mezzanine and ground floor have around 200 shops while there are four more floors with residential apartments," Khan said.

He said as soon as the fire engines and crew reached the spot they first evacuated all the residential apartments with the help of security personnel and took them to safety. "The fire is still being put out and we might recover more bodies and injured people," he said.

Firefighters could also be seen attempting to douse the flames on television channels.

Pictures showed vehicles parked outside the building badly damaged as a traffic jam also took place in the heavily populated area.

Senior police official Afzal Pechio said heavy casualties have been avoided because people helped one other to evacuate the building.

Almas Talha, a housewife who was in her apartment on the fourth floor said as soon there was a commotion, security guards and shopkeepers rushed to the residential floors and helped families evacuate quickly.

Six fire tenders and a snorkel are being used to douse out the fire.

Most structures in Karachi, and other parts of the country, lack fire prevention and firefighting systems, which often results in damages and casualties.

Karachi is the capital of southern Sindh province, where such incidents are common.

This is the second incident of a major fire in a mall in 12 days. A huge fire ripped through a six-storey commercial building in the city's Gulistan-i-Jauhar area on Nov 25 in which 11 people were killed.

After the fire in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, a preliminary report prepared by the Fire Brigade Department had stated that there was "no kind of public safety system" in many commercial and residential buildings in congested areas of Karachi.

(With inputs from PTI and AP)

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