South Asia

Stampede during aid distribution in southern Pakistan kills 11 people

At least 11 people were killed in a stampede during the distribution of food aid in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, a health official said as quoted by Reuters.

The dead included five women and three children, according to police, who said another five people were hospitalized with injuries from the rush of people at a charity distribution site at a factory.

“Money was being distributed among the poor. It was happening for a few days. Today a large crowd had gathered, which resulted in a stampede. Efforts to control the crowd made things worse. Some people drowned in the nearby stream; others were trampled underfoot,” said Faisal Edhi, Head of the Welfare Organization Edhi Foundation.

Thousands of people have gathered at flour distribution centers set up across the country, part of a government-backed program to ease the impact of inflation, which is running above 30%, a 50-year high.

At least five other people have been killed and several injured in recent weeks at sites in other provinces in Pakistan. Thousands of bags of flour have also been looted from trucks and distribution points, according to official records.

According to Reuters report, the stampedes underscore people’s desperation in the face of soaring costs, exacerbated by Pakistan’s falling currency and removal of subsidies agreed with the International Monetary Fund to unlock the latest tranche of its financial support packages.

The costs of basic goods have surged, with flour prices rising more than 45% in the past year.

The Pakistani government has launched the flour distribution program to reach millions of families in need during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan that began last week.