10 killed, 22 injured in Pakistani shopping mall blaze

Relatives comfort each other at a hospital morgue as they mourn the death of a family member who was killed after a fire broke out at a multistory shopping mall in Karachi, Pakistan, on Nov 25, 2023. [Reuters]

A fire tore through a shopping mall in the southwestern Pakistani city of Karachi, killing at least 10 people and injuring 22 others, police and local officials said Saturday.

The multistory RJ Mall is in a commercial high-rise that also houses call centers and software firms.

The fire department dispatched eight fire trucks to the scene after being alerted at 6:30 a.m. Chief fire officer, Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan, said the fourth floor of the building was the most affected.

Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab Siddiqui said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the fire had been extinguished and a cooling process was underway.

He said that five of the 22 injured were in critical condition. "We are trying our best to do whatever it takes to save their lives and to provide them with whatever treatment that is required for saving their lives,” Siddiqui, who was at the scene, told reporters.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.

Karachi is the capital of southern Sindh province, where such incidents are common.

In April, a fire ripped through a garment factory, killing four firefighters. The building eventually collapsed.

In August 2021, at least 10 people were killed in a fire at a chemical factory in the same city. In the deadliest such incident, 260 people were killed after being trapped inside a garment factory when a fire broke out.

Earlier this week, city planners and engineers said they were sure that most structures in Karachi — residential, commercial and industrial — did not have fire prevention and firefighting systems, Pakistan's largest English-speaking paper Dawn reported.

“They agreed that it was ‘criminal negligence’ on the part of regulatory bodies like the Sindh Building Control Authority that put the lives of millions of people in the metropolis at risk,” the report said.