Death toll from Karachi building collapse rises to 17 as police continue investigation

Updated 06 Mar 2020

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Security personnel and volunteers carry out rescue work on the rooftop of one of the structures upon which the five-storey building fell on Thursday.  — Dawn/File
Security personnel and volunteers carry out rescue work on the rooftop of one of the structures upon which the five-storey building fell on Thursday. — Dawn/File

The death toll from a five-storey building collapse in Karachi's Gulbahar area rose to 17 on Friday after rescue services recovered the bodies of three more victims, including a one-year-old baby.

On Thursday, the residential building had fallen on two adjacent structures, bringing them to the ground as well.

Earlier today, a case was registered at Karachi's Rizvia Police Station in the state's name against the building owner, includes clauses 322 (causing death without intention), 119 (Qisas), 337 (causing bodily harm), 427 (mischief causing material damage) and 190 (aiding and abetting) of the Pakistan Penal Code. So far, no arrests have been made and Additional Inspector General of Police Karachi, Ghulam Nabi Memon said that the police were waiting for the findings of the inquiry committee.

Yesterday, 17 injured were rescued from the site. Rescue workers retrieved the bodies and the injured from the debris of the collapsed buildings after cutting through iron rods.

Rizvia police said the multi-storey buildings were located in Phool Wali Gali in Gulbahar-1.

Officials said they faced immense difficulty in getting access to the area as it was a highly congested locality where even the streets were impassable. Ambulances were parked at some distance in another street. The wounded persons were taken to different hospitals of the city.

In order to avoid more damage to life and property, officials ordered for nearby buildings to be vacated.

People from the area told the media that the five-storey 'Fatima' building was constructed around three years ago and a sixth floor was being added when the building came down. Four families were living in the building.

Rescue officials said it appeared that the concrete structure and pillars of the building were weak.

SBCA sources told Dawn that the building was constructed on a 66-yard plot and interestingly it was officially allowed to build five floors on such a narrow and small space.

“But it doesn’t end here. The builder went for construction of a sixth floor on it which was visible to everyone, but no one came to check and challenged his action,” a source had said.

Inquiry ordered

Yesterday, city police chief Additional IG Ghulam Nabi Memon had told Dawn that police were going to register an FIR against the owner of the building and all those responsible for the tragedy. He said that since it was a technical issue and many departments were involved, there was need to get a technical assessment.

It was then decided that police will write to the district administration to constitute a technical committee to fix responsibility. Those found guilty will be booked through supplementary challan (charge sheet) of the case.

Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani said yesterday that an inquiry had been launched to ascertain the exact cause of the incident. He said it would be investigated whether or not the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) had approved the building’s design and criminal charges would be filed against those involved in the case.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had also taken notice of the incident and sought a detailed report.