100 people killed in Karachi garment factory fire

Karachi: Nearly 100 people have been killed and 50 others injured, some of them who jumped out of windows to save their lives, in a deadly fire in a three-storey garment factory in Pakistan’s financial hub Karachi.

The fire broke out on the second floor of the building in the Baldia town area of the city last evening. Around 35 fire tenders with dozens of firefighters were still trying to control the blaze till the filing of this report.

“The fire has been brought under control to a large extent but there are more people trapped inside the building right now particularly in the basement and we fear the building might also collapse eventually due to the damage caused by the fire,” chief fire officer Ehtishamuddin told PTI.

The officer said over 100 people, including five women, were burnt to death and the toll is likely to rise. He said the fire appeared to have been caused by short circuit due to the heavy rainfall but the real reason would only been known once the fire was brought under control.

“The casualties have occurred mainly because there was one entry and exit point in the building. We had to use a snorkel to rescue people who had taken refuge on the roof of the building,” he added.

The chief fire officer said there were bodies lying inside the building which were being recovered but rescue operations were taking time due to blaze and heat. Senior police officer Aamir Farooqi said there is still lot of fire and smoke inside the building so it was unclear how many workers are still trapped inside the building.

“From the information we have collected from the owners detained the factory functioned round the clock in different shifts and they were around 200 people on duty when the fire broke out,” Farooqi said.

“Most of the people have died due to severe fire burns or suffocation inside the building and their bodies were badly charred,” said a doctor at the civil hospital said.

He said fire tenders and a snorkel with the Pakistan Navy were also being used in the operation to put out the fire.

Municipal Commissioner Matanat Ali said Sindh Governor Eshrat ul Ebad had ordered a full scale inquiry into the fire and the owners had also been put on the exit control list. In a similar fire incident in a shoe factory in Lahore yesterday, at least 25 people were killed and dozens injured.

“The government has also decided to observe a day of mourning,” Ali added.