KARACHI - At least 40 people including 16 women and 22 children were burnt to death in an inferno which engulfed hutments in Sector 5 of North Karachi early Friday. The funeral prayers of the deceased persons were offered en masse and they were laid to rest in Muhammad Shah graveyard. Officials of Sindh government and the City government participated in the funeral prayers. The fire broke out just before midnight on Thursday when most of residents were sleeping, said Waseem, an official at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital in Karachi He said 22 children aging one month to 10 years old included 12 girls and ten boys. Two injured are being treated in Abbassi Shaheed Hospital. Hospital sources said that all the charred bodies have been shifted to Edhi mortuary in Sohrab Goth after autopsy. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained. However, some officials believed that the residents had started a small open air fire to beat the cold and the wind turned into inferno that went out of control. Fire Brigade sources said that the big fire was caused due to bonfire which engulfed the hutments instantly, burning alive almost all the inmates while they were in deep slumber. The windy weather contributed to the swift spreading of fire to other hutments. The blaze also damaged electric cables and installations of the adjoining flats buildings. Area people said that the kunda (illegal power connection) added to fuel to fire, considerably raising the death toll. Mohammed Asghar, a survivor who lost his sister, brother-in-law and their seven children aged one to 12 in the blaze, told The Nation that he was just away form the scene when fire broke out. Asghar further said that residents of huts were poor and used the electricity by illegal means (Kunda System). Therefore, he believed that the blaze was sparked by a short-circuit. Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has ordered an inquiry into causes of the incident. He has also expressed deep sorrow over the loss of innocent lives in the tragic incident. Sindh Governor Dr Israth-ul-Ebad Khan and Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah had ordered the departments concerned to investigate into the cause of fire. Chief Minster Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah visited the place on Friday and expressed his condolence over the loss of precious lives besides announcing a grant of Rs 1,00000 each for the victim families. Sindh Chief Minister's Advisor Rashid Rabani and Special Assistant Waqar Mehdi expressed deep grief and sorrow over the tragic loss of lives. They said the government would provide maximum support to the families. Sindh Minister for Trade and Industries Rauf Siddiqui, Health Minster Saghir Ansari, member of the parliament Adil Siddiqui, Shoaib Bukhari, Moin Khan and other officials also reached the spot. Talking to the media, they said that it was a terrible incident which claimed many innocent lives. They added that all the treatment expenditures and arrangements for the funeral rites would be met by the Sindh government.