Several left homeless as inferno sweeps through shacks

Around 200 dwellings are burned down in Teen Hatti, leaving at least 400 people without shelter


​ Our Correspondent January 23, 2020
Siblings with their pet dog search for belongings as they visit the burnt-out house of their family after a fire broke out in a slum in Karachi.REUTERS

KARACHI: Late Tuesday night, many residing in shanties located under the Teen Hatti Bridge were roused from sleep to witness the harrowing sight of roaring flames sweeping through their rundown abodes, swallowing their minimal belongings and leaving behind a trail of ash and smoke.

However, despite being surrounded by the fast-spreading blaze, the dwellers were quick to vacate the shanties. As a result, no casualties were reported in the incident.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Central district chairperson Rehan Hashmi estimated that the inferno burned down around 200 shanties, and according to the district administration, the massive fire has left 450 to 500 people homeless.

Delay in rescue

By the time firefighters reached the spot, the shanty housing locality was almost entirely ravaged by the fire.

Speaking on this account, fire department officials shared that they were informed of the incident at 10.38pm, following which seven fire tenders, along with other rescue staff, was dispatched to the site of the blaze. Upon reaching the site, the rescue personnel first shifted the affected persons to a safe location and then began efforts to contain the fire, they said. They also attributed the delay in the rescue efforts to the late arrival of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board's water tankers. The tankers arrived after a delay of an hour and a half, which hindered the operation, fire department officials complained.

Meanwhile, police and Rangers rescue teams and ambulances too reached the place of the incident and partook in the rescue operation.

Rescue workers have shifted the fire affectees to a government school in Liaquatabad C-Area, where they are to stay on a temporary basis, according to a local administration spokesperson. Adding to it, they have also been provided blankets and food, Hashmi apprised The Express Tribune.

Down and out

The burned down informal housing locality, stretching over approximately two acres, comprised several shanties, said fire department officials. Many of them, along with goods kept inside, were gutted in fire.

Lamenting the "huge loss," the dismayed residents of the now charred shanties said they have been left empty-handed as they had to leave behind all their belongings while fleeing the inferno. Though a few of them attempted to retrieve some of their belongings, they were helpless in the face of massive blaze. Now, most among them fear being left out in the cold.

Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani, meanwhile, constituted an inquiry committee on Wednesday to look into the causes of the fire and propose measures to avoid the recurrence of such incidents. The committee is to submit a report regarding the inferno in two weeks.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2020.

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