A total of three Afghan and Pakistani refugees were killed in a fire that erupted in a container they had been living in in Istanbul on Jan. 12.
The fire was reportedly ignited from an electric heater. The killed refugees had been living in a container in Istanbul’s Beylikdüzü district and earning their living by gathering paper in the streets.
There were refugees of Pakistani and Afghan origin among a total of 22 refugees who live in containers located side by side. In one container, seven refugees had been living in the same container. One of the refugees, Mohammed Islam, 25, had insisted on keeping the electric heater on throughout the night.
Towards morning, the electric heater emblazed a blanket. Three of the refugees who did not manage to escape the container were killed in the fire. Asad Khan, 19, who was of Pakistani origin, Islam and 20-year-old Tosif Khan were killed in the fire.
Following the incident, fire crews were dispatched to the scene immediately. The fire was extinguished before it could spread to other containers. One wounded Pakistani refugee was taken to the Bağcılar Training and Research Hospital for treatment.
Seventeen refugees who were affected by the smoke and who lost their things moved in temporarily with their acquaintances and relatives.
“We collect paper here with our 22 friends. There are seven containers here. Immigrants from Afghanistan and Pakistan come here and try to go to Europe from here. The ones who make enough money try to cross the border again. I was sleeping in the next container when the fire started. We usually light a wood burning stove, we do not turn the electric heaters on at night. Our friends did not turn off their electric heater because they were cold,” said Sayeed Iqram, who was of Afghan origin.
“I came from Tajikistan 15 years ago. I got citizenship here and started to work. Immigration is very difficult, so I will help them. Immigrants are staying in all seven containers. The people here change every four to five months because they stay here for a bit and go to Europe. This group came here five months ago. I spoke with Muhammad Islam, who died in the fire the night before. I advised them not to turn on the electric heater. But they did not listen to me,” Mübarek Çerman said.