KMC orders fire security audit of buildings along three major city roads

Published November 28, 2023
The damaged and blackened lift shaft of the ill-fated shopping mall on Rashid Minhas Road.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
The damaged and blackened lift shaft of the ill-fated shopping mall on Rashid Minhas Road.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: While investigators probing fire that broke out in a six-storey shopping mall on Rashid Minhas Road on Saturday sought help from technical experts, Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab on Monday ordered a ‘fire security audit’ of all high-rises located along three major arteries of the city.

Eleven people were suffocated to death due to lack of ventilation and emergency exits in the multi-storey building.

A notification issued by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) on Monday said that inspection teams had been constituted to conduct the audit of all major buildings in Karachi within 15 days.

However, the mayor said that buildings located on I.I Chundrigar Road, Sharea Faisal and Shahrah-i-Quaideen/Tariq Road would be inspected in the first phase.

The notification said that Chief Fire Officer Ishtiaque Ahmed will inspect buildings along Sharea Faisal, while Muhammad Humayon and Ghulam Fakhruddin will inspects high-rises on I.I. Chundrigar Road Sna Shahrah-i-Quaideen and Tariq Road.

The terms of reference are: To assess fire safety measures including escape routes and emergency exits; basic fire safety equipment including smoke detectors, fire watch guards, fire extinguishers, fire hose, etc; electric wiring and general condition of electrical equipment, electric meters including switches, plugs, etc; to make recommendations to the building managements.

High-rises on I.I. Chundrigar Road, Sharea Faisal and Tariq Road will be inspected in first phase

The mayor said action would be taken against those buildings which were found without any fire exit.

Investigators visit sealed building

An investigation team, lead by the DIG-East, visited the sealed building on Monday to collect evidence, etc.

SSP-Investigation Amir Saud Magsi told reporters that the inquiry was being conducted from every aspect.

“We have included one engineer in the team,” he said, adding that they observed many things which would be included in their report.

He said that they had also decided to seek help from fire, explosives and electricity experts.

“Soon we would visit the building with experts and engineers,” he said, adding that it would be premature to say with certainty as to how and where the fire erupted from.

The investigators would be in a better position to explain things when the final report would be compiled, he added.

He said there were some things which were missing but a transparent probe would be conducted and responsible persons would be taken to task.

“A strict legal action would be taken in the light of the inquiry report,” he said, adding: “We’re trying to complete the probe as soon as possible.”

FIR not lodged in haste, says SSP

The SSP claimed the police had not registered the FIR in haste.

He added that a delay might have weakened the case before a court of law.

He clarified that the FIR contained only information about the situation/events that surfaced during an initial probe.

The SSP said that the building would remain sealed till the visit of experts and collection of evidence from it.

Meanwhile, the shopkeepers of the shopping mall arranged Quran khwani for the 11 persons who died in the incident.

They installed banners outside the mall, expressing regret over the deaths of their employees, which also contained slogans for early completion of the probe so that they could resume their business.

They also demanded unsealing of the building at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the K-Electric (KE) on Monday claimed that the fire had erupted in the internal wiring of the shopping mall’s building and not in its infrastructure.

“Initial investigation revealed no involvement of K-Electric’s infrastructure,” said a spokesperson for the power utility in a statement. “The fire erupted from the internal wiring and spread to other parts of the mall. It is pertinent to note that the mall’s internal wiring is out of KE’s jurisdiction.”

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Spirit of ’74
26 Feb, 2024

Spirit of ’74

FOR three days in 1974, starting Feb 22, Lahore witnessed an epochal meeting of 38 Muslim nations as it hosted the...
Silence strategy
Updated 26 Feb, 2024

Silence strategy

Attempts at internet censorship only serve to tarnish Pakistan’s image globally and betray the democratic principles the country purports to uphold.
Nepra’s reluctance
26 Feb, 2024

Nepra’s reluctance

WHAT is the point in having a regulator that does not punish the entities it oversees for misconduct and...
Pipeline progress
25 Feb, 2024

Pipeline progress

THE outgoing caretaker government has decided to move forward with the much-delayed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline...
Engaging the Taliban
25 Feb, 2024

Engaging the Taliban

DEALING with the Taliban — Afghanistan’s de facto rulers — continues to present a diplomatic dilemma for the...
Burden or opportunity?
Updated 25 Feb, 2024

Burden or opportunity?

Maryam Nawaz is embarking on a journey of challenges and opportunities.