Sep 12 2012
At least 60 people have been killed in a fire that raged in a clothes factory in Karachi, bringing the death toll of two fires in Pakistan to 85.
The head of the emergency department at the Civil Hospital in Karachi, Tariq Kamal Ayubi, said that 60 bodies had been taken to the hospital - many were so badly burned that it was impossible to tell whether they were male or female.
The fire in Karachi, Pakistan's economic heart, was one of two deadly blazes to erupt on Tuesday. The other, at a shoe factory in Lahore, killed 25 people.
Some people had to break through barred windows and leap to the ground to escape the flames, officials and survivors said.
Workers told how their colleagues were trapped behind blocked exits and firefighters said that one reason why the blazes were so deadly was that the buildings lacked clear escape routes.
Such safety issues are common throughout Pakistan, where buildings also lack emergency equipment like alarms and sprinklers and municipal rules are rarely enforced.
Pakistani television showed a video of the five-storey Karachi factory with flames leaping from top-floor windows and smoke billowing into the night sky. Firefighters could be seen pounding on the metal grates covering some of the windows and pulling out smoke-covered bodies.
Many of the workers were injured when they jumped from the burning building, said another doctor at the Civil Hospital, Karar Abbasi. One was a 27-year-old pregnant woman who had to jump from the second floor and was now suffering complications with her pregnancy, said hospital officials.
Firefighters are still trying to subdue the deadly blaze that broke out on Tuesday.
In Lahore, the fire swept through a four-storey shoe factory and killed 25 people, some from burns and some from suffocation, said senior police officer Multan Khan. The factory was illegally set up in a residential part of the city. It broke out when people in the building were trying to start their generator after the electricity went out. Sparks from the generator made contact with chemicals used to make the shoes, igniting the blaze.