RAWALPINDI: Five young women, including a bride-to-be, died due to a fire in their home in A-Block Satellite Town on Tuesday.
Sana, 24, the daughter of Chaudhry Tariq, was to get married on Thursday and the mehndi ceremony was held Monday night.
According to an initial police investigation and family members, the bride, her sister and cousins were sleeping in the upper storey.
The family noticed smoke coming from upstairs at about 12:15pm on Tuesday. When they went upstairs, they found the girls dead in their beds.
Rescue 1122 firefighters faced problems in extinguishing the fire as inmates of the house were looking for their family members.
The women were sleeping in the upper storey, which was completely destroyed
The police said 14-year-old Hina, 20-year-old Hifza, 24-year-old Sana and Naina died on the spot while the bride’s sister, 25-year-old Minahil was taken to the Benazir Bhutto Hospital with burns and later to the Holy Family Hospital where she died late Tuesday night.
Reports of the cause of the fire are conflicting. Intelligence sources say the room filled with gas due to a leak caused by a compressor and that the girls had fainted due to gas inhalation. They said the fire that gutted the upper storey started afterwards.
On the other hand, Sub-Inspector Liaquat Ali, who is leading the investigation, told Dawn that the fire started due to an electric short circuit and said there was no gas compressor in the house. Meanwhile, the fire department has so far been unable to give the cause of the fire.
An eye witness said he saw the upper storey enveloped in flames and heard people in the street screaming. He said neighbours were running towards the house to help.
“Thick smoke was coming out of the house, the windows were broken and firefighters were struggling to control the flames,” he said.
The bodies of the four women were taken to the District Headquarters Hospital. They were handed over to the families after external post-mortems were conducted.
Sheikh Kamran, a relative of the family, told Dawn that the girls had gone to sleep upstairs after the mehndi ceremony ended late at night.
Federal Minister for Railway Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed visited the scene and expressed sorrow over the tragic incident.
In a separate incident, a couple and their two minor children were hospitalised with burn injuries after they were trapped in a fire that started in their house due to a gas cylinder explosion in Kartarpura, under the jurisdiction of the Banni police station, on Tuesday.
The police said the fire started when the wife of Mohammad Saeed tried to light a leaking gas stove which caused an explosion that cracked the walls of the house.
Mohammad Saeed, his wife, six-year-old Hadia Saeed and four-year-old Ibrahim sustained burn injuries.
They were first taken to the Benazir Bhutto Hospital and later to the Holy Family Hospital’s burn unit.
Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2019