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18 killed in stampede during distribution of free of cost flour

At least 18 people, mostly women were killed, and various others injured in the wake of a stampede at Khori Garden, a slum area of Karachi on Monday, during distribution of free of cost flour by a local trader.

The CCPO Karachi, Mohammad Waseem confirmed the deaths of 18 people, including women, while civil hospital sources set the death toll at 14 fearing rise in the death toll, as some injured are stated to be in critical condition. The deceased included two children.

An emergency was declared at the civil hospital, where doctors were busy in saving the lives of critically injured till the filing of this report.

The police have arrested the trader, Chadury Iftikhar Ahmed, who had been arranging distribution of free of cost flour among needy people for last ten years.

President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, and Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah have taken strong notice of the unfortunate incident, and ordered an immediate inquiry into that.

According to eyewitnesses, some 400 to 500 people, mostly women gathered outside a godown, owned by Chaudry Iftikhar, near city courts on Monday morning to collect the free of cost flour.

The stampede occurred at around 4 pm, when some women pulled and pushed each other in order to get the flour bags.

” They (women) started running all of a sudden. Some of them fell on the ground, and the women following ran over them”, Samina Begum, a survivor of the stampede told Online at civil hospital.

” I don’t know what was the actual reason (of stampede), but it might be due to scuffle between some women who were trying to get flour bags before each other”, she maintained.

Edhi, Chippa, and other welfare organizations ambulances faced difficulties in reaching the spot due to narrow streets and densely populated location. The bodies were shifted in private vehicles and injured to the nearby civil hospital, where emotional scenes were witnessed.

Heirs of the deceased were wailing on the bodies of their dear ones as various bodies were taken by their family members without postmortem.

Zubeda, another injured blamed some disorganized women responsible for stampede.

” It was not his (trader) fault. I have been collecting flour form here for last ten years, and nothing like ever happened. This is because of some women who started fighting and pushing each other forcing the owner to close down the main gate of the godown”, she said.

” He has been helping us for last ten years. This is not his fault, it is our fault. He is innocent”, she said while tears rolling down her cheeks.

Zubeda said that many women brought their kids along with them in order to get extra quantity of flour.

This time, eyewitnesses said the people turned up to collect free of cost flour were almost double then the previous year virtually because of the growing poverty.

Sindh Information Minister, Shazia Marri said that the trader who had arranged the distribution of free of cost flour, did not inform the administration or police about the flour distribution ceremony.

” If he had informed the administration, the loss of valuable lives could have reduced”, she said.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has taken serious notice of stampede in Karachi where several people have lost their lives. He ordered immediate enquiry into the incident. He also ordered best medical facilities to the injured.

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