At least 12 people were killed and 75 others injured when a huge fire erupted at Karachi’s Regent Plaza hotel early Monday. The blaze started from the kitchens of the four-star hotel and spread upwards to trap many guests in the buildings, and although the fire was contained in the space of a few hours, the makeshift arrangements made to get the trapped guests out left a lot to be desired.

As the news coverage and stories of the survivors show, people stuck on higher floors of the hotel were forced to use bed sheets to make ropes to get down, and jump the remaining distance – resulting in numerous incidents of broken bones. With the fire brigade present and the hotel large enough to require mandatory fire exits, making the guests rely on such actions means there is surely a problem in the fire safety regime somewhere.

While we wait for the result of the reports of the Civil Defence and fire departments to determine whether the Regent Plaza Hotel fire was an outcome of some criminal negligence on the part of the management, allegations of misconduct have already started flying. Karachi mayor Waseem Akhtar claims that the building had “no fire exits or fire alarms”, while the management says that it had all fire safety precautions required by law and that the fire department should improve its outdated equipment.

Meanwhile, a private electrical safety and audit assessment organisation, the Electrical Inspector Pakistan (EIP), which was designated by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry to carry out random inspections of affiliated organisations, revealed its one-year-old report that showed serious flaws in the electrical system – and that the hotel was aware.

As is the case with these sort of tragedies, no one source can be blamed squarely for the disaster, and a mixture of factors leads to mismanagement. If the hotel was determined to have serious flaws in the electrical system and not adequate fire safety arrangements, the blame falls as much on the city government as on the hotel.