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Two killed as Awami Markaz building in Islamabad catches fire

September 10, 2017
Firefighters struggle to control the fire at Awami Markaz building in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. —AP
Firefighters struggle to control the fire at Awami Markaz building in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. —AP

Two people were killed when a fire broke out in the Awami Markaz building in Islamabad's red zone area on Sunday, said rescue officials.

Important records of government institutions were destroyed in the fire which broke out due to a short circuit on the building's ground floor and spread to the fourth floor, according to rescue officials.

The fire continued for eight hours and was extinguished with the help of four navy snorkels.

Two men, Ali Raza and Aijaz, were severely injured when, in order to save themselves from the fire, they jumped from the fourth floor of the building. They were transferred to a nearby hospital where Raza succumbed to his injuries. Aijaz remains in a critical condition, according to rescue sources.

Another man, Waqar Ali, was pulled out from the fire by rescue personnel but he also succumbed to his injuries upon reaching the hospital.

According to rescue officials, the offices of government ombudsmen inside the building were completely destroyed in the fire.

Minister for Industries and Production Ghulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi as well as the the District magistrate Islamabad ordered the formation of separate high-level committees to investigate the issue; additional secretary for industries and production, and the additional deputy commissioner (East) will chair the respective committees.

The building housed the Centre of Excellence-China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which sparked rumours that important documents relating to the project had been burnt.

Denying the rumours, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that "no CPEC record has been destroyed in Awami Markaz fire."

"There is a small research unit, the record of which is in digital mode and is safe," he said quoting the Planning, Development and Reform division.