CM says deadly fire criminal negligence of SBCA

Karachi’s Arshi Shopping Mall inferno death toll rises to five

KARACHI-The death toll in the inferno at the multi-storey commercial-cum-residential building in Federal B Area of the city rose to five on Thursday as several others lost goods mostly furniture products worth millions of rupees as families remained stranded.
Rescue officials said the number of people killed in the incident has increased to 5 after another body was found inside the charred structure of the building while one person is injured. “I have lost my entire money from the pension fund I invested in the furniture shop in the market,” a man who identified himself as Muhammad Akbar said. “Were will we go from here and who’ll compensate our losses.” One woman standing outside the flats which have been sealed by authorities after the blaze said that other than their home, which is worth more than 4 million, their precious belongings are still present inside the building and they do not know if they are intact or not. “We have to leave everything behind in a rush and now when we are allowed to go inside, then we’ll be able to know what’s being left inside,” she said while refusing to share her name.
Sindh Chief Minister Justice (Retd) Maqbool Baqar visited the affected building where he met the affected families and was told that 74 apartments and 130 shops were gutted with fire while the flats on the backside of the building remained safe.
Deputy Commissioner Central Fawad Soomro briefing the CM said that the fire broke out at Arshi Manzil, Gulberg subdivision at around 5pm to 5:15pm on Wednesday reportedly due to short circuit.
The fire initially broke out in the commercial shop situated on the ground floor. There are many shops for furniture, mattresses, perfumes, and jewellery on the ground floor. The fire suddenly started engulfing all the shops and four residential floors. The Fire brigade and 1122 Rescue were mobilized promptly and reached the spot-on time. The quantum of the blaze was so huge that it took considerable time to extinguish fire.
Caretaker CM Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar has said that the eruption of fire in Arshi Manzil, a six-storey commercial and residential building, at Aisha Manzil is the result of the utter failure, criminal negligence, and inefficiency of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) and other concerned civic bodies and their officers. Had the SBCA implemented all the building codes such a huge fire would not have claimed three innocent lives and reduced 74 apartments and 130 shops,” he deplored and went on saying that he had ordered an inquiry into the incident in which responsibility would also be fixed against the delinquent so that they could be brought to book.
Every building must be equipped with a fire safety system, and fire tender route but sorry to say all these important safety measures have been ignored. “I had already issued such orders for carrying out safety and security audits of the public and private buildings so that such incidents could be avoided,” he said and added that he would ensure safety and security audit of all the important buildings so that shortcomings could be overcome. The CM said that the assessment of the losses caused to the residents and the traders would be assessed. “The Sindh government would try to support the residents and the traders,” he said.
To a question, the CM said that he has directed the district administration not to allow anybody to start living in the burnt apartments until and unless the SBCA inspect the building and declares its status. “I have directed the district administration to establish camps for the affected people so that they could stay there till the building is inspected,” he said and added the residents of the apartment would only be allowed one by one to visit their flat and secure their remnant households and lock the apartment. The deputy commissioner has designated two school buildings - Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali, Azizabad and Allama Shabir Usmani Block-14, FB Area to house the affected families.

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