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KARACHI, Nov 28: A young man fell to his death from the eighth floor of a multi-storey building on Abdullah Haroon Road in an attempt to escape a raging fire on Wednesday.

Police and rescue services said that the fire had broken out in the duct housing electric cables on the second floor of the 12-storey State Life Building, mainly housing offices of the Karachi Electric Supply Company.

The fire quickly spread up to the 12th floor in the duct causing massive smoke in the building, said chief fire officer Saleem Ethesham.

Since the fire had broken out on the second floor and spread up to the top floors, it turned the building into a ‘smoke chamber’, the CFO remarked.

“Fortunately, the emergency exit staircase in the building was clear, and it was through this exit that around 800 people present in the building managed to escape,” the CFO told Dawn.

“Probably the young man got panicked and instead of using the fire escape he went out through a vent and clung to the window,” Mr Ethesham said.

The police and rescue sources said the young man hung from the window for nearly half an hour before he finally fell down and landed on the roof of the second floor.

The situation was being witnessed by a large number of people from the street below. Some private television channels were showing it live. The critically wounded man was rushed to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where he died during treatment.

The victim was identified as Owais Baig, 23, resident of Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Block 13. He was present on the eighth floor waiting for a job interview for an executive engineer’s job when the fire erupted. Although the fire department’s snorkel did arrive at the scene, it was too late for Owais Baig.

“Our snorkel had reached the scene of the fire, but by the time the young man had fallen,” the CFO said.

Eight fire tenders and two snorkels were employed in the firefighting operation, and the fire was doused in three hours, he added.

Inquiry ordered

Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah visited the fire-affected building, opposite Zainab Market in Saddar, and sought details of the incident.

He directed the administration to take all preventive and precautionary measures for the safety of the people working there, and asked the health secretary that all medical treatment be provided to  the affected persons.