KARACHI: The death toll in the Regent Plaza hotel fire hit 12 on Tuesday, as another body was recovered from the building.
A committee has been formed - led by District South Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Saqib Ismail Memon - which started investigating the case. According to sources, the police have so far remained clueless to ascertain the actual cause of the fire.
No case had been registered until the filing of this report. "A case will be registered and action taken against the culprits in light of concrete evidence gathered from investigation," said SSP Saqib Memon.
At least 12 people lost their lives and 75 others received injuries when the four-star hotel caught fire early Monday morning. Police have refused to declare the blaze "accidental" until any solid evidence was recovered. The statements of officials of civil defence, fire brigade, rescue workers and also the hotel administration were also recorded. According to sources, the hotel staff told the police that all instruments used to douse the flames were working perfectly during the fire drill held at the hotel previous week.
"The fire was controlled in the kitchen, however, the flames spread to the restaurants owing to short circuiting," the hotel's security in-charge, Major (r) Saad, told police.
He further said that at least 100 staff members and 500 guests were in the hotel when the fire broke out. He further claimed that the fire alarm went on for five to six minutes, but did not work at the upper floors since the wires had burnt down.
The police have also started conducting chemical examination of all the evidence that were collected from the Regent Plaza. Initial investigation revealed that emergency exits of the hotel were locked when it caught fire.
Police sources said that a committee was probing why the electric supply to the hotel was not cut off; even two hours of flames that had engulfed the hotel.
According to the fire brigade authorities, neither the electricity supply to the hotel was disconnected nor was the centralised system turned off.
Furthermore, police claimed that the fire equipment present inside the hotel was not at par with international standards, and that gas leakage could have also caused the fire to spread. Police further revealed that there were three emergency exit doors in the hotel. The one near the kitchen could not be utilised because of the heavy smoke. The other emergency exit located near the lift, which leads to the road to Jinnah Hospital, was used by the stranded people, while the third one leading to the parking are was not evidently used.