Ride in Karachi's amusement park crashes, killing minor, injuring over dozen

KARACHI: A minor girl was killed and more than 16 others injured when a swing collapsed in an amusement park on the city’s University Road, rescue and security officials said.

A 16-seater Evolution ride came thundering down late last night in Askari Park of the Old Sabzi Mandi area, killing 8-year-old Kashaf — the daughter of Abdul Samad — and wounding numerous others.

The new ride was opened for a trial today but was closed right after the accident, with police shutting down the recently-opened park to the public.

Eyewitnesses related that there was a loud explosion somewhere in the swing’s mechanism and it fell down from its peak, causing parkgoers inside the ride to be slammed onto the ground and being crushed underneath.

Immediately afterwards, people present at the site started rescue work by themselves in order to help those who remained trapped, as officers of the emergency response teams of Edhi, Chippa, and other rescue services started arriving at the site of the accident.

The injured people, after being recovered from under the fallen ride, were to a private hospital on University Road so that first aid could be administered to them. They were later moved to Civil Hospital and Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre.

Parks closed Sindh-wide until inspection

Commissioner Saleh Farooqui of Karachi reached Askari Park soon after the accident and inspected the ride. An initial investigation was subsequently launched, he said.

The park was set to be closed until a full technical check-up is complete, he noted, adding that the initial investigation should finish later today (July 16). The government would bear the expenses incurred to treat the wounded people, Commissioner Farooqui announced.

He further explained that take legal action would be initiated against the park administration accordingly and that he would look into how the park obtained a no-objection certificate (NOC) and who issued it.
Farooqui also inquired the administration about the provision of first aid in the park and whether it had an emergency centre.

On the other hand, Major (retd) Azam Suleman Khan, the chief secretary for Sindh, formed a committee, which would be led by Deputy Commissioner for Karachi’s East District and submit a report on the incident by the next 24 hours.

He also ordered the rides in all the parks throughout Sindh be closed until a thorough technical inspection is completed.

Muhammad Zubair, the governor of Sindh, had also summoned a report on the incident from commissioner Karachi as well as the additional inspector-general (AIG).

The governor had directed the authorities to provide extraordinary health care to the injured.

Swing left as is for forensics, inspection

Earlier, the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) had directed the local administration and park management to leave the broken swing at the site of the incident, adding that the amusement park will be re-opened after approval from the higher-ups.

Rescue teams had rushed to the park to provide immediate medical attention to those in need but faced difficulty reaching the site of the incident as they had to wade through the high concentration of traffic.

Celebrities, politicians offer sympathies

Multiple notable people took to social media to condemn the incident, offering prayers, urging authorities to question those responsible, and take adequate action.

“Saddened to hear about the accident at Askari Amusement Park in old Sabzi Mandi, Karachi, which took the life of one little girl. My heartfelt condolences to her. family. May Allah protect Pakistan and Pakistanis everywhere,” Miftah Ismail, the former finance minister, said.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Dr Arif Alvi wrote that he “visited the injured from the Askari Amusement Park accident tragedy at Jinnah hospital and inquired about them as well as talked to the families”.

Ali Raza Abidi, a member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), suggested that “compensation to the families should be issued”.

“Commissioner Karachi and DC East have assured an investigation on the fatal negligence at Askari Park to fix responsibility which [cost] a life and many injured.”

Naz Baloch of the PTI wrote: “Strict safety rules should be followed and security assured in all parks to avoid such incidents in future.”

Singer Fakhr-e-Alam, however, said: “This is not the 1st incident that happened at the Askari amusement park.”

The girl “died because park owners have old rides that will not be allowed to operate in [other] countries.

“Not only should the park management be held responsible but also the park authority.”