Dawn News

Relatives mourn the death of a loved one during a funeral for a garment factory victim in Karachi, Sept 13, 2012. — Photo by AFP

KARACHI, Sept 13: Desperate family members of still missing workers were looking for their loved ones in the fire-struck garment factory in Baldia Town on Thursday afternoon, when search for more bodies had almost been abandoned.

It was the third day of the fire, which had erupted in the industrial unit on Tuesday at around 7pm when the three-storey-plus-basement factory was packed with 800 to 1,000 garment workers busy in their respective tasks on jeans being prepared for export.

Among the grief-stricken people were Rafiqunnissa and her family, residents of Baldia Town. The family members, all females, were sitting on a pavement outside the Baldia factory. They were holding photographs of four young women who and an aunt of theirs were believed to be burnt to death in the factory inferno.

“They all were employees of the factory and their male relative Ijaz had managed to get them at one place,” said one of the grieving women, adding that Ijaz had been in contact with the family even after the fire had broken out.

Another crying member of the family said the last time the deceased could be contacted on telephone by them was amid loud cries and noises. “We’re running hither and thither; have visited all major hospitals and the Edhi morgue, but have failed to find the bodies of our Zoya, Soni, Samra, Rubab, Ijaz and others,” she said. “Please allow us to look for them in the basement; they may be in it,” said another member of the family.

Standing at a distance from the family, an employee of the city’s fire brigade, Mohammad Ijazuddin, said that during his 34 years of service he had never seen such a big fire. “I’ve been here since Tuesday night and have witnessed some 70 bodies taken out from the 2nd floor, some of them tangled with one another,” he said.

An aged volunteer from the neighbourhood, separating the badly tangled electric wires with the help of a young man, said he was arranging for light in the basement, which was being cleared of water by firefighters.

At around 1pm, a social worker said he had heard of only one body having been recovered since morning and that he believed no more bodies were left in the basement. “Had there been any, they would be floating now on the leftover water,” he said.

A senior worker who had just come out of the basement, however, said he had seen body parts floating on the water and there might be more bodies under the heaps of garments and bundles of cloth.

The fire had not been extinguished till 1pm, when workers doing the clear-up exercise on the second floor suddenly called for water hoses to be brought over to put out a fresh fire that had broken out in stitched jeans.

Comments (10) Closed

Sep 14, 2012 12:25pm
May Allah give them jannat-ul-firdous to the departed souls and sabr-e-jameel to the grieving members, Ameen. It is so sad that we Pakistanis who are nuclear power, still lives in stone age. As I have no hope from the government to take care of the victims, so we the citizens of Pakistan should get up and start taking care of these innocent people by not only consoling but also monetary help. Support their children by taking responsibility of their education(this is the only way that they can survive with dignity).Take care of their parents so that they don't have to work in old age. All those to whom Allah s.w.t have granted wealth should come forward and participate in this Kar-e-khair.
Sep 14, 2012 07:50pm
we ve become habitual of condeming this or that...we wil forget this as soon aswe forget our last meal the real thing is to stop those carelessnesses that bring such horrible accidents.govt have even no time to condemn now a days because few months r left 4 their LOOTMAAR.if they will take care of their people then who will kill them.their mission will not accomplish;only ALLAH will help them .
Jamil Siddique
Sep 14, 2012 11:01pm
Typical. More interested in counting how many dead or forming meaningless conspiracies theories. Pray for departed souls and the one's left behind
Iqbal Hadi Zaidi
Sep 14, 2012 08:01am
Numerical dilemma is very much confusing and perplexing. How many people men and women were inside the garments factory is still unknown? Some sources said there were over 1000 others said 800 while a few guessed that there could be around 500 people inside the factory. However, even if we take 500 as the correct figure the question is that how to give a complete account of even 500 persons? On Wednesday I saw Karachi commissioner on tv saying that 289 people have been killed and today after the lapse of 48 hours the figure has come down to 258 which itself is very much shocking and I wonder why and how the figures can dwindle so much. Whom to believe and whom not to believe? Who answers me? Iqbal Hadi Zaidi / Kuwait
Sep 15, 2012 05:53am
PPP, MQM and ANP are doomed in next elections! Voters will lynch them in elections!
Sep 15, 2012 02:49am
This is the time for sole searching. Please have respect for the working men and women. This is a human right issue. Safety and security is workersright and not an option. The employees are humans and not an object to make money for the owners. Long live the spirit of workers. I say never again such a tragedy. RIP my brothers and sisters.workers
Sep 15, 2012 03:46am
It is very pain full and tragic. Our prayers with those who perished and who lost their love one. May Allah protect us from the evils of the time? What a tragic end. This reflects very poorly on the government. We must update the quality of our respondent and the tools to protect industrail and public buiding from fire. The richer are getting richer at the expense of poor. The safety and security must be address as a national urgency . Both provincial and federal governments are responsible for these tragedies. The court must take this issue a national issue and impose on the richer to offer safety and trainning to the employee.
soul alive
Sep 15, 2012 04:44pm
Its time for nation to wake up , hundreds of families have lost thier bread winners , there are no rules and regulations . No fire exits. No code reds, no fire extinguishers , factory owners just care about their profit and people running Karachi dont care about safety of a poor labor. today is worst day for all karachiites . This incidence will increase poverty
biplab bhattacharya
Sep 15, 2012 04:16pm
This is the fate of this sub continent. how can the owners of the gutted factory got bail from court.the owners must be very powerful and influential species,they can manipulate everywhere.only hapless poor ill paid workers die everywhere in this subcontinent for callous and inept handling of safety norms. I condole with the families of the victims at the same time i want an exemplary punishment must be inflicted upon the perpetrators of this factory massacre.
Sep 15, 2012 04:23am
sorry for the loss - this is so tragic