A man convicted of killing eight members of the same family in a fire is on the loose after absconding from a prison in central England, police said Thursday.

Shakeil Shazad was released from Sudbury prison near Uttoxeter on a work licence on Wednesday and is now "unlawfully at large", Derbyshire Police said.

The 33 year-old was sentenced to 18 years in jail in 2003 on manslaughter charges for his role in blaze in Huddersfield which killed eight members of the same family.

Seven members of the Chishti family -- Muhammad Ateeq-ur-Rehman, 18, Nefeesa Aziz, 35, Tayyaba Batool, 13, Rabiah Batool, 10, Ateeqa Nawaz, five, Aneesa Nawaz, two, and six-month-old Najeeba Nawaz -- died in the fire in May 2002.

Another family member, Zaib-un-Nisa, 54, died in hospital a week later.

Shazad plus two other men, Shaied Iqbal and Nasar Hussain, were convicted over the crime.

A fourth man, Shaid Mohammed, was arrested by police after the blaze but went on the run and has never been found.

A Derbyshire Police spokesman said: "Anyone with any information about the whereabouts of this man is asked not to approach him but to immediately contact their local police or Crimestoppers anonymously 0800 555111."

Shazad is 5 ft 6 ins tall with short black hair, a black beard and brown eyes. He has connections in Huddersfield.

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