Second fire in Pakistani office building this year kills one, injures four

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

A fire in an office building in Karachi, Pakistan has killed one and injured four. Reports say that the fire was the second at the building, locating near the town's shipping terminal, in half a year.

The building, which is owned by the state-owned Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC), had suffered a previous fire in February. The first fire, caused by a short circuit, damaged five floors, burning from floors 12 to 16. The building is 17 stories high.

Today's fire destroyed seven more floors, starting on the 4th around 2:30 p.m. and being propelled up to the 10th by strong winds in the area. The deceased was a male shipping company official, who was assisting efforts to extinguish the blaze. According to the International Herald Tribune, he lost consciousness after inhaling smoke and fumes, and was pronounced dead on arrival after being rushed to hospital. However, The Hindu News reports that officials said he died near the scene from a heart attack, brought on by the ensuing disaster. The Hindu News also gives his name and occupation as Vijay Kumar, an administrator and manager employed by the PNSC.

Four firefighters received injuries from falling glass shards and other assorted debris. One technician was trapped on the roof where he had been performing maintenance on a communications tower installed there. He was rescued by one of two navy helicopters dispatched to the scene. In addition to the helicopters, 115 firefighters and 25 fire engines from the city fire brigade and the Karachi Port Trust attended, as well as a number of ambulances from relief organizations.

It is reported by some that the likely cause of the fire was another electrical short circuit, similar to the one that triggered February's fire. However, Pakistan's Minister for Shipping and Ports Babar Ghouri said that subversive or terrorist activity could not be ruled out and it was strange that the last time a blaze broke out in the building was also a Sunday. "We are going to carry out a full-scale investigation into this fire because they are certain things that appear strange," Ghouri said.

Sources

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