Page last updated at 06:48 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 07:48 UK

Pakistan launches stampede probe

A woman searches for a relative's body in Karachi following a stampede, 14 September 2009
Victims' relatives looked for bodies at a local hospital

An investigation has been launched into the stampede in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi which killed at least 14 people on Monday, officials say.

Women and children were crushed in a stampede to get free flour being handed out by a private group for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The police have arrested the distributor of food for negligence and unintended murder.

The government of Sindh province has also announced compensation packages.

It says it will award 100,000 rupees ($1250) to the family of each victim.

The incident took place at Khori Garden in central Karachi, near the waterfront.

The area is lined with narrow streets where wholesalers operate warehouses of wheat, grain, pulses and other such goods.

A private charity was handing out free flour at the time. An argument was reported to have broken out after which the stampede occurred.

Hundreds of women had gathered and many of those who died were suffocated or trampled in the ensuing chaos.

Police arrested the distributor of the food.

Mohammad Iftikhar Memon was granted bail by a court on Tuesday morning.

Many Muslims hand out food to the poor during Ramadan, the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar, which ends next week.

Our correspondent says prices for staple goods have risen sharply in Karachi, and the government appears unable to provide relief to increasing numbers of people affected by poverty.

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