KARACHI, Sept 11: At least 22 workers, among them three women, burned to death and over 20 others were injured when a fire broke out in a garments factory in Site area of the city on Tuesday.
The injured were taken to Civil and Abbasi Shaheed hospitals for treatment of burns injuries and smoke inhalation.
Most of them died during treatment at the Burns Centre of the Civil Hospital.
“Fourteen bodies have been kept in Civil Hospital’s mortuary,” said a rescue worker of an ambulance service.
Three charred bodies were taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre because there was not much space left for keeping more bodies in the Civil Hospital.
Sources said the victims brought to the Civil Hospital had serious burns injuries. A large number of women were among the injured.
The fire had broken out on the second floor of the building at around 6pm and was raging till the filing of this report.
A senior fire officer said there were over 1,000 workers in the factory, but most of them had left at 5pm while about 200 stayed back for overtime.
He said those present on the second floor faced difficulties in getting out of the building because of limited exit points.
“There were chances that some workers could still be trapped inside the building, but there is so much smoke and fire raging that no one can get inside the building,” said West SSP Amir Farooqui. The situation would be clear once the fire was put out, he said.
The fire officials categorised the blaze as third degree.
A snorkel was used to rescue people stranded on the roof who had taken shelter there after rest of the building became too suffocating.
Almost all of the 20 fire tenders of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation were engaged in the operation. All the fire tenders and snorkels available with the Pakistan Navy, Air Force and KPT were employed in the rescue.
A large crowd of onlookers created hurdles in the rescue and fire fighting action. Help of police and Rangers was sought by the administration to disperse the crowd.
“The building was constructed in such a manner that it did not have many exit points. It did not even have any fire-fighting system,” said a senior fire officer.
He said the cause of the fire was unknown.