Top forensic expert dies in fire

Short circuit sparked the blaze which killed four others, say cops


Our Correspondent August 13, 2021
Furniture and fixture of the house of forensic professor Dr Farhat Mirza lies charred after a fire that claimed his life along with four other people. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI:

Renowned forensic medicine expert Dr Farhat Mirza was killed in a fire at his house on Thursday. Four other members of the household were also killed in the blaze.

According to the police, a deadly fire broke out in the residence of the former police surgeon and forensic medicine professor on Tipu Sultan Road, Muhammad Ali Society area. Fire officials, rescue workers and police personnel reached the site. When fire officers managed to enter the upper portion of the house they found five unconscious elderly persons.

The 60-year-old professor, his brother, Sultan Mirza, 80, sisters, Sahiba, 78, and Shazia Mirza, 72, and domestic staffer Akbar, 50, were shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where they were pronounced dead.

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The police said they had died of suffocation. The cops added that the late professor’s wife and other members of the household were also affected by the suffocation but their ailments were minor and they were discharged after first-aid.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Chief Fire Officer Muhammad Mobin said that the cause behind the fire could not be immediately ascertained but the initial probe suggests that it was a short circuit.

Bahadurabad SHO said that the blaze was likely caused by a short circuit in the switch of the deep freezer.

According to the preliminary report prepared by the fire department, the fire tender was dispatched at around 3.40am and another was sent at around 4am given the scale of the blaze. The fire broke out on the ground floor of the two-storey house and while the residents on the ground floor managed to make their way out the building those on the second floor needed to be rescued.

The police said the family refused to have the postmortem of the deceased conducted and the bodies were handed over to the heirs.

The late professor and his siblings were laid to rest in Essa Nagri Graveyard after their funeral rites were offered at Bilal Masjid while Akbar’s body was shifted to Khairpur for his burial.

‘Father of forensic medicine’

Dr Mirza was known as the ‘father of forensic medicine’ as he was one of the pioneers of the field in Pakistan.

He was the chairperson of the department of forensic medicine at Jinnah Sindh Medical University. Among his published works were studies on firearm injuries, police encounters, burn wounds, poison, railway track deaths. A medico-legal expert, he was also a member of special medical boards, including those constituted for exhumation or custodial deaths.

He was the supervisor for the Fellowship of the College of Physicians and Surgeons for students specialising in forensic medicine.

Born in 1952, Dr Mirza received his medical education from the Liaquat University of Medical Sciences, Jamshoro, which was formerly Liaquat Medical College.

Condolences poured in for the late professor from various segments of society, including his colleagues and students at the three varsities, the Pakistan Medical Association, the Sindh chief minister and the provincial health minister.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2021.

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