Police team investigating fire at Karachi plaza to seek help of experts

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Police team investigating fire at Karachi plaza to seek help of experts

Karachi: The police team investigating the fire at a commercial high-rise building in Karachi’s Gulistan-i-Jauhar area will seek the help of additional experts, a senior police official said on Monday.

At least 11 people died while five others were injured after a blaze erupted inside the R.J. Shopping Mall at 6:20am on Saturday because of a suspected short circuit.

The fire erupted on the fourth floor before spreading to other parts of the building. According to officials, the deaths occurred because the building had no ventilation. A police team was subsequently formed to investigate the fire.

On Sunday, police had registered a first information report (FIR) of the fire at the Sharea Faisal police station. The case was registered on behalf of the state but no one was nominated in the FIR.

Earlier today, Karachi East Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) (Investigation) Amir Saud Magsi, along with other members of the investigation team, examined the building as it remained sealed for the third consecutive day.

Talking to the media, SSP Magsi said it was the investigation team’s second visit to the site. The team had also visited the building on Sunday.

“We have included one engineer in the team,” Magsi said, adding that the team had observed “many things” which would be included in its report.

Terming the incident “tragic” and regretting the loss of innocent lives, SSP Magsi said the team had also decided to seek help from experts well-versed in the subjects of electricity, explosives and fire.

“It is too early to reach any conclusion,” the officer said, adding that the team had sent questionnaires to different institutions and was waiting for their responses.

Without elaborating, the officer said there were “some elements” which were missing but vowed that a transparent probe would be conducted and those responsible would be held responsible.

“Soon, we will visit the building along with experts and engineers,” he said.

He said the FIR was not registered in haste, adding that any delay in doing so may have weakened the case in court. Magsi further said that only the information which surfaced in the initial probe was stated in the FIR.

“Strict legal action will be taken in light of the inquiry report,” the SSP said. “Someone’s negligence has caused a colossal loss of human life which is regrettable,” he said.

“We are striving to get help from experts and carry out a transparent probe to unearth the facts,” Magsi said.

He added it would be premature to say with certainty where and how the fire erupted. He said the investigators would be in a better position to explain the chain of events when the final report was compiled.

“It is our endeavour to complete the probe as soon as possible,” he said. The SSP added that the building would remain sealed till experts visited the site and evidence was collected.

Meanwhile, the shopkeepers who were working at the plaza arranged a Quran Khwani for the 11 killed in the fire. The shopkeepers also installed banners outside the mall, expressing their condolences over the deaths of the employees.

The banners also bore slogans for the probe’s early completion so that the shopkeepers could resume their business activities. They also demanded that the building be de-sealed.

KE holds ‘internal wiring’ responsible for blaze
Meanwhile, K-Electric (KE) said that “internal wiring” and not its own infrastructure resulted in the fire at the plaza.

“The initial investigation revealed no involvement of K-E’s infrastructure,” the power utility’s spokesperson said.

He said that according to preliminary findings, “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,” the spokesperson said. He added that K-E teams were present at the site at the time of the incident to provide support to rescue teams.