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Garment factory blaze kills at least 249
Lack of safety measures contributed to high death tollA grieving family holds up a photograph of a loved one who died in the fire
- Sunny Gill
- September 13, 2012
The blaze erupted shortly after another fire at a shoe factory in Lahore killed 25 people. InvestigatorsÂ believe both fires were caused by faulty generators.
Hundreds of workers were trapped in the Ali Enterprises factory in the port cityâ€™s Baldia district. The building had no fire exits and metal grilles across the windows barred the escape of many of the victims, rescue officials said.
Those that managed to escape were forced to jump from the upper floors. At least 65 workers were injuredÂ jumping from the four story building.
One of the survivors, who only gave the name Saleem, broke his leg and received minor burns.
â€śAll of a sudden, the entire floor was filled with smoke and flames. The intense heat made everybody desperate. I managed to break a steel grille away from a window and jumped outside,â€ť he said.
A case has already been lodged against the factory owners after allegations of unsafe working conditions emerged.
Rescuers said there was little they could do to save those trapped in the building and were forced to watch helplessly as the blaze raged and the death toll grew.
â€śWe have limited resources. A shortage of water posed the biggest challenge and we had to refill trucks at hydrants that were miles away,â€ť said Karachi fire chief, Ehtesham Salim.
He said the factory was full of combustible material fueling the fire which raged for around 15 hours.Â Many of the victims died of smoke inhalation and their bodies were later consumed by the blaze, Salim added.
Meanwhile, the grief of relatives is already turning into anger, aimed not just at the factoryâ€™s owners but also at the authorities who theyÂ claim allowed the factory to operate despite safety concerns.
Noman Peter, who works for the Catholic Bishopâ€™s National Commission for Justice and Peace, lost his brother-in law and another relation in the fire.
â€śCorruption has engulfed the whole system. All government departments share equal responsibility,â€ť he said.