13 killed in crush while waiting for food donations in Pakistan’s Karachi

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People mourn the death of a relative, who was killed along with others in a crush during a food distribution, at a hospital morgue in Karachi, Pakistan, on March 31.

At least 13 people were killed and 10 others injured Friday in a crush among people waiting for Ramadan food donations in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi, local police said.

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

The victims from Friday’s crush were all women and minors, police said. Among the dead were two boys aged seven and 16, and a 9-year-old girl, according to Summaiya Syed Tariq, a surgeon with the local police force.

An 80-year-old woman, the oldest among the casualties, also died, Tariq said.

Images from the aftermath of the crush show personal items, including shoes, strewn on the ground.

Among the 10 injured on Friday was a five-year-old girl and two boys, who were hospitalized, according to police.

Security personnel make way for former Prime Minister Imran Khan, center, as he arrives to appear in court, in Lahore, Pakistan, Friday March 17, 2023. A top Pakistani court suspended an arrest warrant for Khan, giving him a reprieve to travel to Islamabad and face charges in a graft case without being detained. Khan has been holed up at his home in the eastern city of Lahore since Tuesday. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudhry)

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The crush happened in an industrial area of Karachi, where the FK Dyeing company was distributing alms for Ramadan, according to other police official Fida Husain Janwari.

Around 400 women gathered to receive the food aid, said Janwari.

Authorities arrested several company employees at the scene, accusing them of failing to put in place safety protocols for queuing, according to Janwari.

The deadly crush comes at a difficult time for many in Pakistan, which has been wracked with political instability, economic woes and an energy crisis. Last year’s record flooding left millions of people reliant on aid, while record inflation has caused food prices to shoot up.

Vendors sell fruit under lights lit by batteries in Lahore, Pakistan, on Monday, January 23. Millions of people across Pakistan’s major cities were plunged into a blackout prompted by a power grid failure, dealing another blow to the nation already reeling from surging energy costs.

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A nationwide power outage in January left nearly 220 million people without electricity.

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

Friday’s crush is one of several similar incidents at food distribution centers in Pakistan.

Two people were killed and 16 injured over the past week, across two government run flour distribution sites in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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

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