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Pakistan stampede :

Around 20 women, children killed

PAKISTAN: A stampede killed up to 20 impoverished women and children, crushed in a stairwell and alley, when charity workers handed out free flour Monday in Pakistan’s financial capital Karachi, officials said.

Dozens of women and girls from poor families converged on the first-floor office of a small charity in the crowded neighbourhood of Khori Garden in the hot afternoon of Ramadan, the month when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.

The tragedy came four days after a stampede killed five girls at a state school in New Delhi, the capital of Pakistan’s rival India.

“We have so far received 20 bodies of women and girls while the injured are more than 30,” Amin Khan, an official at Civil Hospital Karachi, told AFP.

City police chief Wasim Ahmed said at least 18 women and children died in the stampede with dozens of others injured.

“The deaths were caused by suffocation and the stampede in one of the most congested localities of Khori Garden, where a charity was distributing free flour among hundreds of women and children during Ramadan,” he added. Women clad in black burkas sobbed and wailed as ambulances screeched through the streets, ferrying the bodies and injured to hospital, where panicked relatives searched for their loved ones and dead bodies lay covered in sheets.

Injured Salma Qadir, 40, said the women wanted to get their rations quickly but were beaten by a guard.

“The women scared and tried to turn back, which scared others and resulted in a stampede,” she told AFP. Several dozen women’s shoes, sandals and slippers were left lying on the road outside the distribution place in Khori Garden, a warren of narrow lanes and side streets ill equipped for large crowds, an AFP reporter said.

Shops in the area closed as a sign of mourning after the tragedy as women and children wailed outside the crowded emergency ward of the Civil Hospital Karachi where bodies and the injured were transported.




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