Four-star Regent Plaza Hotel in Karachi where blaze killed 11 had no emergency exits
Hotel guests use bed sheets to climb down from windows of top floors as smoke filled the hotel
A pre-dawn inferno at a four-star hotel in Pakistan’s Karachi killed 11 people Monday and wounded 75, police said, with desperate guests jumping from windows and scrambling down knotted bedsheets to escape.
The blaze at the Regent Plaza Hotel in the centre of the port megacity broke out when many guests were still asleep, with a lack of fire alarms and emergency exits leaving many trapped in their rooms.
Watch: Deadly blaze at Pakistan hotel
At least two Pakistani international cricketers were among the guests, one-dayers Sohaib Maqsood and Hammad Azam, though they were not believed to be seriously injured.
“The hotel had no fire safety system and no fire exit to evacuate people, they had no fire alarm,” Karachi mayor Waseem Akhtar told reporters at the site.
Local Urdu TV channel Abb Takk said 200 local and foreign doctors were staying in the hotel to attend some seminar on Monday morning, when the fire erupted.
The report added that 20 Chinese engineers were also staying in the hotel and have been safely evacuated.
Seemin Jamali of Jinnah Hospital said that three Chinese people were among those injured and were in a stable condition.
Most of Pakistan’s buildings don’t meet safety standards to avoid such mishaps.
TV footage of the incident showed guests at the hotel using bedsheets to climb down from windows.
“Trapped people showed courage and made ropes of bed sheets and came out one by one, many people have been injured,” hotel guest Saeed ur Rehman, himself wounded in the fire, said.
Guests were left helpless, he said, for hours. Police have said it took up to three hours to bring the fire under control.
A man standing at a balcony kept waving for help but the hotel did not have any means of reaching him, another survivor, Hamid Ali, said.
He said the guests were sleeping when the fire broke out.
“Four to five hours everybody was looking helpless , crying for help and nobody was there to help them,” said another of the injured, Muhammad Saeed, under treatment at hospital.
Many of the injured had cuts or fractures suffered as they leapt from the eight-storey hotel’s upper floors to safety.
“We tied the bed sheets together to make a rope, and used that to climb down from the fourth floor,” said Khalid Mehmood, one of the injured, speaking from his hospital bed.
“We also had to jump mid-way, as the bed sheets weren’t long enough.”
Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Kyodo, Xinhua