Wednesday November 29, 2023

Nine women among 12 killed in Ramadan charity handout stampede

Injured shifted to Civil Hospital, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital; stampede occurs at local factory

March 31, 2023

Relatives mourn beside the body of a victim who died in a stampede during a Ramadan alms distribution for people in need, at a hospital in Karachi on March 31, 2023. — AFP
Relatives mourn beside the body of a victim who died in a stampede during a Ramadan alms distribution for people in need, at a hospital in Karachi on March 31, 2023. — AFP

KARACHI: At least 12 people have been killed and five injured in a stampede in the port city's SITE area during a free ration distribution drive organised by a private dying factory.

Police officials told Geo News that 12 people, including nine women and three children, lost their lives due to the stampede at a local factory where the owners were distributing ration.

The officials further added that the factory has been evacuated while injured people have been shifted to Civil Hospital and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital — as they were nearby.

Google map highlighting the area where the incident took place in Karachi on March 31, 2023.  

Hundreds of people gathered at the factory in the city's industrial area to collect ration — which is part of charity drives that Karachhites hold every Ramadan to help the needy.

Six people also fainted during the stampede, rescue sources told Geo News. Meanwhile, police officials stated that a huge number of people were gathered at the site when the ration was being distributed.

A lot of people who died, as per rescue sources, fell into a nullah at the factory. Also, eyewitnesses told the media outlet that people were called for Zakat distribution.

Updating about the number of deceased individuals, Edhi sources said that nine bodies were taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, while two were taken to the Civil Hospital.

All deceased, according to the Edhi sources, brought to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital were women among which three were younger girls, Faisal Edhi said. 

Taking notice of the incident Governor Sindh Kamran Tessori has sought a report from the Karachi Commissioner Muhammad Iqbal Memon. The governor also expressed grief over the loss of precious lives in the incident.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah also took notice of the stampede and sought a report from the commissioner. “Administration should duly report about distribution of ration and welfare efforts,” CM Murad said.

In a statement later, the chief minister announced Rs500,000 compensation for the families of the deceased and Rs100,000 for those injured in the incident.

Seven people arrested

Superintendent of Police (SP) Muhammad Mughees Hashmi, speaking to journalists, said that the area police confirmed that the incident took place because of a stampede, adding that the local police station was not informed prior to the distribution.

The SP said that seven people have been arrested so far and an investigation has been initiated.

Fearing that the death toll is likely to increase, he revealed that during the stampede water line also burst which fueled the situation.

SSP Kemari confirmed that no evidence of electrocution was found at the site and all the people who lost their lives were killed as a result of the stampede.

The police official also confirmed that there was no incident of a nullah’s wall collapsing. He added that there more than 400 people were gathered at the location when the stampede took place.

The incident is one of the many stampedes that have occurred in recent weeks claiming the lives of at least five people and injuring many across Pakistan at sites where the distribution of edibles, particularly wheat flour, under the government-backed scheme had been underway to provide support to struggling families amid the country’s deteriorating economic crunch.

Thousands of people gathered at the centres set up across the country as part of the government's efforts to ease the impact of inflation, which ran above 30%, a 50-year high.

Costs of basic goods have surged even more, with flour prices rising over 45% in the past year.

The Pakistani government has launched the flour distribution programme to reach millions of families in need during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan which began last week.