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. Nusrat Hussian says:

    There is evidence that selected shops were looted before the fire was set. After the looting bombs wen off to demolish the building and the Plaza fell. A simple fire will not cause the buidling to fall, the cause is bombs .

    The question is who planted the bombs , who collected the loot and who is covering up?

  2. DuFFeR says:

    sir g i was there when the fire fighting was on way at plaza. and i swear there was not a single armed personnel. only local police, new traffic wardens, Rescue 1122 ambulances and fire brigades + TMA’s water tankers including tractors, and vehicles from other cities were present there. but not a single army man until Saturday (2nd day evening). and the Lt Gen Farooq Ahmed Khan is lying that his commission had gathered there all the concerned authorities with vehicles and machinery since early morning. the army men and carriers arrived there when there left just the collapsed building material to get rid of.

  3. wasiq says:

    If the number of fires has spiked for no obvious reason, this all must be the result of arson and the general lawlessness that is at the core of all of Pakistan’s problems. How can the nation prevent arson and the wanton destruction of public and private property ?

  4. Finally, I have found something to rejoice about at a time when we all are enveloped by bad news.

    Hashoo Foundation of Pakistan wins BBC world challenge 2008


  5. aap tou bohat naummid ho gaye ho Naummidi kufar hay qaumo ki zindgi may ayse wakt aate hay.Almighty Allah per bhrosha rakhey aur pure eiman aur zazbe ke sath jaha per bhi ho pu ri sincerity se apna kaam kare aur pakistan ki tarrakki may apna pura hissa day

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