13 Killed in Crush During Ramadan Food Distribution in Pakistan's Karachi

Total Views : 310
Zoom In Zoom Out Read Later Print

The victims of Friday's crush were all women and minors, police said, adding that among the 10 injured was a five-year-old girl and two boys, who were hospitalised.

At least 13 people were killed Friday and 10 others injured in a crowd crush in Pakistan's largest city of Karachi as a Ramadan food donation sparked a stampede in the inflation-hit country, officials said.

Fida Janwari, a senior police officer in western Karachi’s Baldia Town neighbourhood, said the stampede occurred in an industrial area of Karachi, where the FK Dyeing company was distributing alms for Ramadan.

He said around 400 women gathered to receive the food aid, noting that the incident happened when needy women with children flocked to the factory.

“Panic struck and people started running,” he told AFP.

Police Surgeon Summaiya Syed Tariq revealed that among the dead was a nine-year-old girl and two boys aged seven and 16, noting that an 80-year-old woman, the oldest among the casualties, also died.

Janwari said authorities arrested several company employees at the scene, accusing them of failing to inform police of the donation event in order to put in place safety protocols for queuing.

The crowd crush is the latest in a string of deadly incidents at food distribution centres across Pakistan as citizens struggle with soaring inflation and rising costs of basic necessities. 

Last week, during the beginning of Ramadan, when Muslims traditionally make donations to the poor, two people were killed and 16 others injured in a stampede for flour across two government-owned flour distribution sites in northwestern Pakistan.

In a statement Friday, Pakistan's Human Rights Commission said it was "deeply concerned" at a lack of proper management at aid centres, calling on the government to improve safety.

Friday's deadly crush comes at a difficult time for many in Pakistan, which has been wracked by political instability, energy crisis, and economic turmoil - with the rupee crumbling and staple food prices shooting up nearly 50 percent as the country battles a balance of payments crisis that has forced it into bail-out talks with the International Monetary Fund.

The situation has been exacerbated by the global energy crisis caused by the Ukraine war, and record monsoon floods last year that submerged a third of the country, leaving millions of people reliant on aid. A nationwide power outage in January left nearly 220 million people without electricity. 

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who recently appeared in court over allegations of illegally selling gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries while he was in office, was ousted last year after accusations of economic mismanagement as the crisis deepened.