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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Over 300 roasted alive in 2 Pak fires

Islamabad: In one of the worst industrial accidents in Pakistan, at least 289 people were killed in a Karachi garment factory fire while 25 more were charred to death in a Lahore shoe-making unit on Wednesday, taking the combined toll to well over 300. Most of the victims in Karachi were between 18 and 25 years of age. 

    Rescue workers were trying to retrieve bodies from the charred building in Karachi, where around 1,500 people were employed, until late Wednesday night. Officials said most workers, including women, were trapped in the building as it had just one exit. All other doors were locked while the windows were grilled. After factory fire, owner not allowed to leave Pak 
Islamabad: At least 314 people were burnt to death as fire engulfed factories in Pakistani cities of Karachi and Lahore on Wednesday. 
    In Karachi, several people on the second and third floors prised open the metal grills and jumped out. Rescue workers said at least 68 people suffered fractures as a result. "The death toll is 289. This is not final. Search for more bodies continues," said Karachi commissioner Roshan Shaikh. 
    The factory is located in Baldia town on the outskirts of the port city. According to fire officials, many people trapped in the building died due to asphyxiation, pointing to lax safety measures and the abysmal working conditions of factory workers. 
    "We found many people died because of suffocation caused by the highly toxic smoke. They died first and their bodies were later consumed by the raging fire," said Karachi fire chief Ehtishamuddin Siddiqui. 
    So devastating was the fire that most bodies were charred beyond recognition. 
    "Many of those dead can be identified only through DNA tests. It was a large garment factory that employed hundreds of people. It's difficult to assess how many have 
come out safely and how many failed to escape," said Roshan Shaikh. 
    "The blaze was deadly. Within minutes the fire spread to all floors. The heat was so intense that we rushed towards the windows, broke open its steel grill and jumped out," said Junaid Ahmed, who fractured his legs after jumping out of the third floor. "I was the fifth person to jump and many others followed. I saw many people who had jumped out of the win
dows crying for help," Junaid said from the hospital bed. 
    Firefighters said the building was in a precarious condition with cracks in its walls. They warned that it could collapse any time. 
    Interior minister Rehman Malik directed Sind inspector general of police to investigate the incident and included the name of the factory's owner in the exit control list (ECL), which means he cannot travel out of Pakistan. 

WORKPLACE INFERNOS 

Sept 2012 | 38 killed in a fire at a fireworks factory in Sivakasi, Tamil NaduDec 2011 | 90 killed as fire breaks out in AMRI hospital in Kolkata June 2010 | Blaze destroys shops and housing in Bangladesh, 116 dead Aug 2004 |A super-market 
fire in Paraguay kills 364 Dec 2001 | 280 die in a fire in shopping area in Lima, Peru Nov 1993 | Over 80 killed in a fire in a toy factory in southern China May 1993 | 188 killed in a fire at a Thai toy factoryMarch 1911 | Fire in a New York textile factory kills 146

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