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Nation’s worst industrial tragedy swallows at least 258

Published Sep 13, 2012 03:20am


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Rescue work is in progress at a burnt garment factory inKarachi on Wednesday, September 12, 2012. The death toll in the devastating garment factoryfire in Baldia Town has reached 289, raising fresh concerns about workplace safety, officials
said. — Photo by PPI

KARACHI: The enormity of the Karachi garment factory inferno that consumed at least 258 workers, including a number of women, on Tuesday evening unfolded on Wednesday morning, when firefighters tore down an outer wall of the three-storey-plus basement building to take out the bodies, mostly charred beyond recognition.

On Tuesday evening TV channels and news agencies had broken the news with a few deaths and counted fewer than 30 people killed in the blaze till late in the night. However, on Wednesday morning charred bodies came pouring into hospital mortuaries and the reported figure soared to at least 258 deaths, making it the worst such tragedy of the country.

More than 500 people, including 50 women, in the evening shift of the garment factory, named Ali Enterprises, were trapped inside the building when the fire erupted at around 6.30pm. The cause of the fire could not be determined.

Viewers saw in horror TV footages showing the blaze with people jumping from the factory building in their desperate attempt to escape the leaping flames. Survivors narrating their nightmarish experience to the media claimed that the exits were locked else the casualty toll would not have been so enormous.

Heart-rending scenes were witnessed at hospitals and neighbourhoods where bodies of victims arrived.

Mortuaries of the major hospitals where the bodies were taken were crowded as grief-stricken relatives sought to recognise their loved ones among the remains mostly charred beyond recognition.

The Sindh High Court chief justice has sought a report from the law-enforcement agencies and civic bodies on the tragedy and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has announced a three-day mourning.

The Sindh government has also announced compensation for the dead and set up a commission to investigate the incident.


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Comments (31) Closed

EmMoosa Sep 13, 2012 06:06pm
Law in pakistan is for the rich people. They can build a huge factory without getting that registered properly. Do we believe that factory was not known to those govt departments who are dealing with the labours, taxation and social security ? Corruption is every where. Why some crooks can not get benefit out of that.
ibrahim1235 Sep 14, 2012 07:41am
dont blame pakistan .it the misatake of those who r living in pakistan .why we the common people dont collect a sum by ourself to give relief to the victims.why do we only use our tongue to show sympathy .why dont we take any further step can we not why why
shamma parveen Sep 13, 2012 09:01am
in this moment of grief we stand together with pakistani awaam
Rayaz Sep 13, 2012 08:22am
No President will come, no PM will come, No Army chief will come to wipe our tears.
Akhter Husain Sep 14, 2012 01:42pm
I appreciate your humanly feelings about the bereaved families.Governments functioning is surely faulty but,we as a whole,do not care for people who generate lot of wealth for us. we,rather keep on accumulating without improving the working conditions of those whose sweat and blood make us rich.We must not leave every thing for the governments to do and show some respect to the working class.
Shahbaz Sep 13, 2012 11:23am
Totally agree... If we can't get a legislation out of this, which enforces all the work places to have fire exits, sprinklers, extinguishers and a fire evacuation procedure before they start operating, then may Allah help us. Incidents can happen even in the safest places and the only consolation could be to make sure it doesn't happen again for similar reasons.
nasirshah606 Sep 13, 2012 12:21pm
I feel sorry for this but I am surprised that people were expecting safety standards at work place in Pakistan. Come on, its Pakistan, its jungle where life of worker is not that worthy for employer or government. Such accidents are expected in Pakistan. The owner of factory much be rich and will have all the means to get through with this. After all its PAKISTAN.
Deep Sep 13, 2012 06:28am
Well...a close and shut case of murder. The factory owner(s), manager, supervisor(s) should be arrested immediately and put behind bars, even before any investigation. No talk of bail for any of them. In this incident its guilt until proven innocent. The company should be made to bear the cost of compensation, and the compensation should not be a token paltry amount, but a value that will be a deterent for other factory owners. Unfortunately, this is a dream scenario because we all know it's not going to happen, never going to happen, since political connections are the rule of law. The victims' families will be paid off with some petty amount and the whole episode will be hushed up and the factory owners paid a far bigger compensation from the insurance companies. History will repeat itself..somewhere else, sometime else.... Next order.. please!
RJ Sep 13, 2012 11:09am
Just a question why isnt the name of the company or the own being flashed ? ???? they would take names of rape victims, name crying people names of every possible person on the planet but the owners ???? i asked why ?
Tariq Abdul Karim Sep 13, 2012 12:44pm
I really dont think, Govt or Firm owner is responsible for this tragedy. It is us who made them enable to abuse us, force us to work in such environment where basic facilities were not there. There were many channels that managed to sell few more episodes of their talk shows, many politicians use this as an opportunity to spoil other
Yasir Sep 13, 2012 01:42pm
This is the most sad thing happened to our nation. We lost 258 people to fire. Disaster like this will raise some serious questions to our mind. The owner of this factory need to be accountable, but then again this plant or factory is not under his/her name. he/she will getaway. This manufacturing plant is look like industrial building, and it should not be build in the city. by looking at the pictures it look like a confined space to me, which is enclosed with limited access which make it dangerous to a worker in this situation. We need some OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations in our manufacturing facility which will help in this circumstance. May the soul of all died in this incident rest in eternal peace.Ameen.
Owais Sep 13, 2012 09:34am
Right Omar, no-issues give political benefits but talking about fuel prices, health, safety, social services etc everyone tries to hide his/her face. This topic will be deleted from our minds in next few days and no one will like even to talk about the issue. today the topic is hot so eveyone is giving coverage but at the end of the day, its the ultimate loss of the innocent families. a similar incident occurred in punjab when a medicine reacted negatively and got the lives 100s of people, now what happened to that incident? everyone forgot nah? so this is the root cause of such incidents as we dont get learn from the experience. we dont have standard rescue equipments, workers who can handle such incidents. May Allah rest the souls of all the died people, ameen
Akhter Husain Sep 14, 2012 01:45pm
You are right,but try it and you will find out the truth.
ibrahim Sep 13, 2012 08:00am
i think it is the mistake of proprietor or responsible persons that they have not made any cautions for the emergencies they might have .
shahid Sep 13, 2012 07:45am
We want to know the actual story behind this incident,either building was locked on the salary day due to fear of extortionists?
Ahmad Sep 14, 2012 11:22am
Law is made for all. It is the selective enforcement thereof and/or the corrupt politicians and bureaucracy which causes the damage - of course to the poor. Ahmad
Omar Sep 13, 2012 07:35am
its due to lack of fire safety practices at the buildings, not due to poor emergency many facilities have fire alarms, marked fire exits and do regular evacuation drills? if people can't get out, it will invariably be too late by the time fire fights break through the buildings
Shoeb Sep 13, 2012 06:23am
Who are we going to blame for our short falls and inefficiancies??
Asaf Sep 13, 2012 02:31pm
The onus of this tragedy lies with the owners of Ali Enterprises and local government. The owners for not spending money on infrastructure and safety methods including safety training and equipment. On the government for allowing business owners to be non-compliant with safety and building standards. A very very sad day indeed.
Ali Sep 13, 2012 06:08am
It is my guess that the doors of this factory and that of many others are kept closed so that the extortionists do not enter and make unjust demands.
amit Sep 13, 2012 06:07am
Such a terrible tragedy. Absolutely heartrending. I just hope that those who have lost near and dear ones can be compensated in some small way so that they can lead lives of dignity. If the government can act and enforce at least some measures of fire safety and insurance for workers, it may prevent such tragedies in the future. I hope this is the last time one reads something like this about Pakistan.
Sajjad Sep 13, 2012 11:24am
Owner of Factory bound to pay maximum financial support in favor of Burnt people. Also i pray those people who are died in that incident.
JeanVerlander Sep 13, 2012 06:10am
This is horrendous, the fact that there were no Fire Escapes surely must be a criminal offence? My Condolences to all the people who have lost loved ones.
Shoeb Sep 13, 2012 06:21am
What sort emrgency procedures we have in case if Allah forbiden that a bigger incident happens?? Our rescue operations and medical facilities exist at lowest level, we are unable to handle any sitution at desastrous levels that might be an either earthquacks or a war.
Shoeb Sep 13, 2012 06:09am
Are there some lessons we have learned from this tragedy??
Omar Sep 13, 2012 05:49am
Where are the protests? Shouldn't our bearded friends be out on the street against this? We have no problem organizing rallies for non-issues, how about rallies for better industrial safety standards for workers, our fellow Pakistanis?
SULTAN SHAH Sep 13, 2012 06:32am
Vinay Sep 13, 2012 07:05am
Conditions at the Ali Enterprises are the norm in Pakistan and much of Asia. They were created through systematic non-enforcement of already woefully inadequate labour, environmental, and occupational health and safety regulations.
umer Sep 13, 2012 10:10am
very sad words..people burn alive...shameless government
Ganesh Sep 13, 2012 01:31pm
Governments in Indian Sub-continent countries like India and Pakistan do not care about the safety and well being of their people. Most people of these countries are so poor they have hard times to feed their families two times daily. They work in factories like slaves with minimum pay. But the Governments of these countries continue to build so called proud strong armed forces with the blood of these poor people to fight each others so called enemies. Dismantle this mindset of enmity, invest resources and money for the wellbeing of the masses. Armed forces of these countries get almost everything on ration(at much less prices than the prevailing market prices) but for what? What they are doing for their countries? Bragging being strong and spreading enmity against the neighbours to go with their selfish motives. Invest money for the betterment of the masses who really build the nations. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the members of the bereaved families and hope may Allah grant them strength to bear the burden of losses they suffered. May Allah grant the departed souls place in heaven and peace.
saythetruth10 Sep 13, 2012 08:50am
This is extremely sad news, this is not just 258 individuals but the death of 258 head of house hold the bread winners. If you multiply 258 dead x 5 (family size)= 1290 effected people. The life of 1290 innocent got devastated by this tragedy. May Allah bring relief to the family members of all those who died in the fire. May Allah bring the shade of the Junataul Furdose to the grave of these 258 brother and sister who died in the fire. I don't want to make this political but power outage, excessive generator use is the cause of the fire and our government and the owners of the factory are 100% reponsible for this tragedy. Now some of our politician will come and shed crocodile tears but the truth is that our government don't care and we are getting collective punishment for picking wrong leaders.