At least 12 people, including four women, suffocated to death and over 110 others were injured on Monday when a pre-dawn fire ripped through a four-star hotel in Karachi, the fourth blaze to hit Pakistan's largest city in the last two weeks.
The blaze broke out in the kitchen located at the ground floor of the Regent Plaza hotel at the city's Shahrah-i- Faisal area and spread across the six-floor building, trapping over 100 hotel guests in their rooms.
Three fire tenders of the fire brigade reached the site and started an operation to rescue the guests. The firefighters were able to contain the fire after three hours, said Faisal Edhi of the Edhi Foundation.
At least 12 people were killed and more than 110 injured -- 30 of them critically -- after the fire broke out, Geo News reported citing sources.
Mayor of Karachi Waseem Akhtar visited the site of the incident and while talking to the media said the fire has been contained. He said rescue work was hampered due to absence of an emergency exit and spreading of heavy smoke.
Amongst those injured were people who had fractured bones after jumping from hotel windows to escape, others had been hurt by shattered glass and many were treated for smoke inhalation, Dr Seemi Jamali, Executive Director at the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Complex, said.
"Those killed include four women and seven males while the injured include some foreigners as well," she said.
The rescue operation has not ended, and some people are still reportedly trapped inside the hotel. The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained.
However, sources at the fire site said it was a short circuit initially and there was no proper fire alarm system.
Fire drill was not conducted since last two months in the hotel, sources said.
The ceilings of the lobby, mezzanine and ground floors were made of thermapool sheet, which caught fire quickly and spread it, they added.
Pakistan cricketer Sohaib Maqsood was present in the hotel at the time of the incident.
Another cricketer Yasin Murtaza jumped from the second floor to the ground and fractured his ankle. Karamat Ali was injured by broken glass, according to sources.
"The casualties could have been higher had it not been for the prompt response of the fire department and other rescue officials," IG Sindh, AD Khawaja said.
The offical said the fire-fighters had managed to put out the fire after nearly three hours as it spread rapidly to floors housing guests who were trapped inside their rooms.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah ordered an inquiry into the fire while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also expressed his condolences over the incident.
Among the injured were foreigners staying at the hotel, including some Chinese officials.
Additional police surgeon Dr Kaleem Sheikh said four doctors and hotel duty manager were among the dead.