KARACHI: 289 lives were lost in a horrific fire which engulfed a garment factory located in Baldia Town.
At least 1,000 workers were present inside the factory at the time of the fire to receive their salaries.
Eyewitnesses tell a horrific tale of what transpired in the factory after the fire broke out. Three of the four doors of the factory were closed to avoid theft on salary day and the lights were shut off.
Several workers of the factory were injured as they jumped out of windows of the four-storey building in a bid to save their lives.
Mohammad Saleem 32, who broke a leg after jumping out of the second floor, said he and his colleagues were hard at work late Tuesday.
“It was terrible, suddenly the entire floor filled with fire and smoke and the heat was so intense that we rushed towards the window, broke its steel grille and glass and jumped out.”
The incident has raised concerns about workplace safety as the factory did not have any emergency exits.
Arriving at the factory, Karachi Fire Chief Ehtesham Salim said the building was flimsily built and had developed cracks in the walls which put the life of rescue workers at risk.
“It is packed like a box with little room for ventilation. There were no emergency exits,” Salim said.
The fire has been described as the biggest the city has witnessed in decades as all fire tenders in the metropolis were rushed to the factory, along with teams from the Navy and Air Force.
The cause of the fire to this point remains unknown but according to Sindh Industry and Commerce Minister Rauf Siddiqi, an inquiry has been ordered into how the fire erupted and why proper emergency exits were not provided at the factory.
Speaking to Geo News, Roshan Ali Sheikh the commissioner of Karachi said the fire had caused severe damage to the factory which could collapse at any point. According to Roshan an investigation report of the incident would be completed within three days.
Case lodged against owners, management
A murder case has been lodged against the owners and management of the garment factory and according to Sindh Information Minister their names have been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).
The factory’s allotment has also been cancelled.
SHC issues notices
The Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court (SHC) Mushir Alam has taken notice of the garment factory fire in which 289 workers were killed.
A petition was filed in the SHC over the horrific fire following which notices were issued to Secretary Labour, Municipal Commissioner, Deputy Attorney General, IG Sindh Police, DG Rangers and the Building Control Authority.
Production in charge records statement
The production in charge of the garment factory has recorded his statement.
The production in charge in the statement said the fire broke out at approximately 6:30PM on Tuesday.
At 2:30PM the electricity went out at the factory following which the generator located on the ground floor was turned on. When the electricity supply resumed at 6:30PM, two to three explosions were heard from the location where the generator was kept following which the factory filled up with smoke.
The production manager added that after the smoke had filled the filled the factory he came out but people were trapped inside.
MQM announces 3-day mourning
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has announced three-days of mourning on the tragic deaths caused by the blaze in the garments factory.
The decision was taken in a joint meeting of the Co-ordination Committee in London and Pakistan.
CM Sindh announces compensation
Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah has announced compensation for the families of the victims and those who were injured.
Rs300,000 will be given to the families of the victims while Rs50,000 has been announced for the injured.