KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — A massive fire burned over 100 burlap-and-plastic shelters in the southern port city of Karachi, forcing hundreds of poor nomads to spend the night in the open amid winter temperatures, but there were no casualties, police said Wednesday.
It was unclear what caused Tuesday night’s fire in the city’s Teenhatti neighborhood, where hundreds of nomad families live in makeshift homes, area police chief Liaquat Hayyat said.
He said firefighters quickly doused the flames but they could not save the 100 or so makeshift homes.
TV footage showed a massive fire sweeping through the shelters as dwellers cried for help.
One tearful woman whose makeshift home was burned told reporters in a televised comment that the dowry for her daughter’s marriage she worked for years to build was gutted by the blaze in minutes.
Another woman sat next to her burned up makeshift home and said she was still waiting for help from the government.
Hours after the fire, inhabitants were seen retrieving utensils and other items from the ashes. Authorities say the government will provide tents to those who lost homes in the fire.
Karachi is the capital of southern Sindh province, where thousands of nomads live in open areas along the Lyari canal. Some have tin roofs but the majority of the houses are made up of cane, burlap and plastic. Male members of the families work as laborers while nomad women and children either beg on the streets or work as maids in nearby homes.