The death toll in the roof collapse at Karachi's Pearl-Continental Hotel increased to two on Friday after a man succumbed to his injuries at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).
On Thursday night, one person was killed and three others injured after the ceiling of the five-star hotel caved in on top of them. Eyewitnesses said the roof collapsed a little after 11pm, triggering panic in the hotel, which had a moderate number of visitors at the time of the incident.
Videos and images shared on social media showed rubble covering the whole lobby of the hotel. Seconds after the incident, all entrances to the hotel were closed and visitors evacuated through two exits.
Afterwards, ambulances, vehicles of charity organisations, fire tenders, police and Rangers personnel reached the site.
According to a press release issued by the police, 52-year-old Raees Ahmed died on spot, while three people — Nafeesa Raees, Narghis Arshad and Syed Shah Faraz — were moved to the hospital. However, on Friday morning, an Edhi official told Dawn.com that Faraz had fallen victim to his injuries and passed away.
A police spokesman confirmed to Dawn.com that an FIR of the incident has not yet been registered.
He said that the incident occurred inside the Marcopolo Hall at the hotel where an event was under way. "A number of retailers and dealers were attending it," he added.
South Senior Superintendent of Police Asad Raza said that police had asked the city administration to initiate an inquiry in order to ascertain the exact cause of the incident from the Sindh Building Control Authority or other relevant experts.
"So far, no private complainant has approached police for registering a FIR," he said.
The senior officer said one of the victims was an employee of a private company that had arranged a dinner at the hotel in honour of their staff while the other was a driver employed at the Pearl-Continental Hotel.
Hotel launches investigation
Separately, in a statement uploaded on its Facebook account, the Pearl-Continental Hotel said that it has started investigating the incident and was working with the emergency services.
"Local administration and all concerned authorities have inspected and cleared the site," it stated.
The management of the hotel also extended its condolences towards all the people impacted by the collapse, offering assurances that the "hotel staff has been diligently providing assistance to our guests".
"Our thoughts are with everyone that have been affected, and we are in communication with them," it added.
'Ill-maintained false ceiling'
Earlier, a Dawn report today stated that the police had claimed the collapsed roof was an “old and ill-maintained false ceiling” of the lobby on the hotel’s ground floor.
“It’s a false ceiling of one of the hotel’s lobbies on the ground floor,” said South Senior Superintendent of Police Asad Raza.
“Apparently, the roof looks old and not maintained for quite some time,” he said, adding that facts would be revealed after an investigation, but it seemed that the ceiling fell due to wind pressure or some leakage.
“The exact reason behind the incident has yet to be ascertained. However, it proved fatal because the false ceiling was made of concrete material. One person has lost his life in the incident,” he added.