01:22 - Source: CNN
Fire engulfs Karachi hotel
CNN —  

A fire in the Regent Plaza Hotel in Karachi, Pakistan, killed eleven people early on Monday morning, local time, and left another 75 injured, officials told CNN.

The fire, which broke out at 2.45 a.m., has been contained and fire department officials were at the scene investigating the situation, Mohammad Yaseen of the Saddar Fire Station told CNN.

Dr Seemi Jamali, who heads the Emergency Room at Jinnah Hospital, close to the hotel, said the deaths had been caused by suffocation and all injuries were linked to respiratory problems.

Pakistani volunteers help a foreigner to escape following a fire at a hotel in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, December 5.

The Regent Plaza Hotel is a prominent landmark in Karachi and has been one of the city’s most popular hotels since the 1970s.

Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar, who was at the scene, told a press conference on Monday no senior employees from the hotel had been present at the scene.

“There was no fire exit for people to escape from and no fire alarms were working,” he said.

Pakistani fire fighters look from a room of Regent Plaza Hotel following a fire in the Pakistan's port city of Karachi on December 5.

In a statement, Pakistan International Airlines said 16 cabin crew members, who had been staying at the hotel, suffered injuries but most had been discharged from hospital by noon on Monday.

Karachi Fire Chief Tahseen Siddiqui told CNN the fire was on the ground floor while the deaths had been on the upper floors of the hotel.

“None of their smoke detectors worked, there was no sprinkler system, this is the responsibility of the hotel … people were completely unaware of the problem, (they) suffocated in their sleep,” he said.

‘Precious lives could have been saved’

In a series of tweets posted late on Monday, the Regent Plaza Hotel’s official Twitter account offered their condolences to the victims’ families and blamed the severity of the fire on Karachi’s fire department.

“Fire spread quickly while the duty manager waited for fire brigade to arrive, which unfortunately took more than one hour to arrive,” the tweet from the hotel’s official account said.

“Had the fire brigade started their operation on time, many precious lives could have been saved today.”

The tweets also defended the hotel against allegations that they had not had emergency exits or fire alarms installed.

“All necessary emergency aid and equipment was present inside the facility with the proper instructions,” the official account said, accompanied by pictures of charred fire equipment and alarms.

But Fire Chief Siddiqui said there had only been a slight delay for fire crews, less than an hour, due to barricades blocking the entrance to the hotel.