Eight arrested in Pakistan after crush at free food point kills 12 – The Guardian

Police in Karachi say nine women and three children dead after crush outside factory during Ramadan alms-giving
Pakistani police have arrested eight people in the southern port city of Karachi after a crush killed 12 people at a Ramadan food and cash distribution point a day earlier.
Hundreds of women and children rushed to collect free food and cash outside a factory in an industrial area of the city on Friday. Business-owners during the Islamic holy month often hand out cash and food, especially to poorer people. An initial report from the police said nine women, aged between 40 and 80, and three children, aged between 10 and 15, had died in the crush.
Police said the eight arrests included the factory manager, who had not told local authorities about the Ramadan alms-giving.
“Factory management did not open the inside gate of the factory and, due to the narrow street, the people at the tail of the line pushed elderly women and children,” the superintendent of police investigations, Hafeez Bugti, told the media during a visit to the site. “As a result, pressure increased enormously, and women and children became the victims of the stampede.”
Police said they had issued and publicised an order saying that any person or organisation planning to distribute food or other things must inform authorities in advance.
The chief minister of Sindh province, where Karachi is located, announced compensation for people injured in the crush and relatives of the victims. Murad Ali Shah said each family who had lost a loved one would receive 500,000 rupees, while everyone injured would receive 100,000 rupees.
Funerals were held on Saturday for some of the deceased: Naseem Begum, 50, and Ma’afia Begum, 55, were buried in Karachi’s Orangi Town neighbourhood. Shehzadi Umar, 60, was laid to rest in her home town of Mirpur Mathelo, about eight hours from Karachi.
At least 23 people have died in Ramadan food crushes since the start of the holy month. On Saturday, police fired teargas at crowds who gathered to receive free flour bags in the north-western city of Peshawar.
Cash-strapped Pakistan launched an initiative to distribute free flour among low-income families to ease the impact of record-breaking inflation and soaring poverty during the holy month.
While Friday’s crush was not part of that government programme, crowds have swelled at the distribution centres in recent days. The free flour distribution initiative was launched by Pakistan’s prime minister, Shahbaz Sharif. His coalition government is facing the country’s worst economic crisis amid a delay in getting a key $1.1bn tranche of a $6bn bailout package originally signed in 2019 with the International Monetary Fund.
Weekly inflation is 45%, unseen since Pakistan gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947. Rising food costs and soaring fuel bills have raised fears of public unrest.
Neither Sharif nor the Pakistani president, Arif Alvi, have commented on the crush.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top