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Two killed, 12 injured as fire erupts in Gulshan multistorey building

Updated March 22, 2019

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A RESCUE helicopter flies past the building on fire on Thursday.—Faysal Mujeeb / White Star
A RESCUE helicopter flies past the building on fire on Thursday.—Faysal Mujeeb / White Star

KARACHI: Two men died while 12 other persons, including a teenage boy and a woman, sustained injuries after a fire broke out in a multistorey commercial building in Gulshan-i-Iqbal on Thursday, officials said.

They said that it was a closed building, which has no balcony or ventilation system owing to which it was filled with smoke, prompting some people to jump from the building. As many as 30 people were rescued.

One man who jumped from the building to escape died while another man died from burns and suffocation, according to hospital officials.

The commercial building was filled with smoke as it has no ventilation system, says city fire chief

The officials said that the fire erupted on upper floors of the 12-storey Noor Trade Centre, housing offices, on University Road near Hasan Square.

Fire tenders were dispatched but apparently they arrived late owing to a traffic jam on the main artery.

People got panicked and at least two of them jumped from the building to save their lives while 12 others suffered burns and smoke inhalation.

They were shifted to different hospitals, where doctors pronounced two of them dead.

According to the Aziz Bhatti SHO Adeel Afzal, the fire erupted on the 11th and 12th floors (top floor) of the building at around 11.30am. It was a commercial building where only offices of different companies were situated.

A fire brigade official said that they were informed about the incident at around 12.07pm.

He said three snorkels, one excavator and seven fire tenders managed to extinguish the blaze at around 3.10pm. However, the cooling work continued till late into the evening.

The official said he believed that short circuit in an outer air-conditioner triggered the fire. Estimates of loss could not be made immediately.

The SHO said that both floors were badly damaged in the fire.

According to chief fire officer Tehseen Siddiqi, it was not a huge fire but the structure of the building was such that it had no balcony or ventilation system.

“It was a completely closed building owing to which it was filled with smoke that prompted some people to jump from it,” said the fire chief.

He said they rescued 30 people from the 11th floor.

Police surgeon Dr Qarar Ahmed Abbasi said that one man, Hamza Masood, 27, who was brought dead to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre died from head injuries suffered during the fall while another man, Jehanzeb Sardar, 23, who died during treatment at the Liaquat National Hospital and was later brought to the JPMC to fulfil legal formalities, died from burn wounds.

Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the JPMC, also confirmed that they received a man brought dead with serious wounds as he had leaped off the building.

Six persons, including a teenager and a woman, were admitted for treatment; four of them had suffered suffocation. Their condition was out of danger, added Dr Jamali. The wounded persons admitted to the JPMC were identified as Mazhar Abbas, 30, Marina Mudassir, 30, Ashraf Ali, 65, Waseem, 16, Basit Pervez, 23, and Syed Salman Raza, 30.

The police surgeon said that six people, all male, were also brought for treatment to the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi. Two of them had sustained burn injuries while the others inhaled smoke and other injuries.

They were identified as Noman Suleman, 24, Hilal Iqbal, 26, Naeem Nasiruddin, 25, Usman Wahid, 30, Mujahid Raza, 30, and Khan Zaib, 37.

Inquiry ordered

Minister for Local Government Saeed Ghani, who visited the spot, told the media that he had ordered an inquiry to ascertain if the upper floors of the building were built legally. They were also assessing if fire-extinguishing equipment was installed and if there were emergency exits in the building.

The minister claimed that after receiving information about the incident, fire tenders were sent out but the firemen probably reached a bit late because of a traffic jam on University Road, where the building is situated.

The provincial minister, while regretting the loss of human lives, promised proper treatment facilities for the injured persons. He urged the citizens to ascertain whether all rules had been followed in the building before sale of units there.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2019