The Fire at Ghakkar Plaza

Posted on December 20, 2008
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Disasters
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Owais Mughal

Pakistan is getting more than its share of bad news. It has reached a point where atleast I am afraid to read daily news. Before I open the newspaper, I pray that please let there be no bad news about Pakistan. Today we sadly hear about the fire that completely gutted the famous shopping center of Rawalpindi called the Ghakkar Plaza.

Up until few years ago news of large scale building fires in Pakistan was a rarity. Not anymore. Building fires news now come at such an alarming regularity that there must be something seriously wrong. In the past two years, we have witnessed fires at Karachi Radio Station, The iconic PNSC building of Karachi (Not once but Two times), Bolton Market Karachi, Several recent fires on Chundrigar Road, SITE and Korangi Industrial area etc. Just yesterday there was a news of building fire from Lahore, and today in Rawalpindi. I am missing many more but regular news readers will know how common place a building fire has suddenly become a Pakistani phenomena.

According to Dawn update:

A massive fire gutted a major shopping plaza here on Saturday, killing at least five people and injuring 59 others.

Four of the injured who jumped for life from the third floor of the city’s landmark Ghakkar plaza suffered multiple injuries. One of them later died in hospital.

More than 25 people, including fire-fighters and rescue workers, were feared trapped in the smouldering debris of the building, which came crashing down 12 hours after the blaze erupted in the early morning. Seven of them were later rescued.

The five-storey mall, which had no proper fire-extinguishing equipment and emergency exits, housed at least 500 shops dealing in garments, electronics, cosmetics, jewellery, shoes and leather goods. There was also a restaurant at the rooftop.

At another side news story Dawn reports:

For firefighters (at Ghakkar Plaza site), the main hindrance was the huge billboards which prevented water from reaching the fire. Moreover, the plaza had only one entry and exit point which was the major cause of the spread of fire. The massive fire at Ghakkar Plaza is a lesson for the authorities concerned to improve the standard of firefighting equipment.

I think we all know what needs to be done. All commercial and multi unit residential buildings should have fire extinguishers, fire escape routes should be made compulsory, regular fire drills should be held, smoke/fire alarms be installed – These are not expensive items anymore – Commercial building permits should be tied to basic fire safety measures like alarms and sprinkler systems. The list goes on and I don’t want to make this post into what ‘should have…’

I have done shopping at Ghakkar Plaza several times on my visits to the twin cities so I feel sad at the loss of this land-mark shopping center as well at the economic loss of hundreds of families who were tied to businesses here.

Photo Credits: Photos are from the Associated Press of Pakistan

14 responses to “The Fire at Ghakkar Plaza”

  1. shop cart says:

    I think we must appreciate those who do something especial. Keep it up, thanks

  2. Khan says:

    When this type of incidents happens, our governments starts operation for these issues but after some days, everything goes on as usual. Our country does not have proper rules and regulations and no one tries to follow the rules. That is the main reason of such incidents.
    (Zain Khan :

  3. Irfan says:

    This shows the need for better building codes. Specially because so many such plazas are now in operation.

  4. Zia Ahmed says:

    Now.. Just think… Why Pakistan is not saying that India did this all.

    Why our media not saying that… Indian people looted some shops in plaza and placed bombs there, Though some foreigners might be involved. But this is seriousness of pakistani leaders that they are now blaming other neighbor countries for this act.

    Long live Pakistan.

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