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Residents look on during the rescue operation after a deadly fire at a garment factory in Karachi, Sept 12, 2012. – Photo by AFP

KARACHI, Sept 14: In the first such finding during the course of investigation into the deadly factory fire, police officials on Friday ruled out the possibility that the fire was caused by a generator explosion, dismissing the earlier speculation and leaving several questions unanswered about the deadliest incident that has so far been seen as an accident.

The investigators, who are busy connecting dots to find the cause of the fire that killed more than 250 people on three floors of Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town along the Hub River Road within hours, found little success while decoding the CCTV (closed-circuit television cameras) footage installed on the first floor of the industrial unit.

“We have prepared a preliminary report of our findings so far,” said Muneer Sheikh, AIG forensic division.

“After a thorough examination of the building and its infrastructure coupled with wiring and other stuff, it is clear that there was no generator explosion.”

“All the generators are intact and safe,” he added.

He said the forensic division of the Sindh police had collected two swabs from the three floors and handed those over to the investigation team for detailed analysis.

“A detailed examination of the evidence may help determine the factors responsible for the inferno, but it can take time to arrive at a final conclusion,” he added.

Meanwhile, the CCTV footage examined by a police investigation team, headed by the DIG CIA, only helped them determine the panic scene after the thick smoke of fire filled the cutting department on the first floor of the building.

“The only exit from the building was through a door with an electronic lock that failed to work when the fire disrupted the power supply, leaving workers trapped at the mercy of the smoke and flames,” said SP Niaz Khosa of the anti-violent crime cell (AVCC) while describing scenes of the scariest industrial incident of the country’s history.

“A large quantity of finished garments was piled on the floor and workers were calmly busy in their work. At 18:56 hours, fire appeared on screen and workers started running helter-skelter as everything got murky with the smoke.”

After two days of exercise, the police investigators have yet to ascertain if the fire was an incident or an arson activity after multiple examinations of the buildings and collections of several evidences. As shared by a senior officer, who is part of the four-member police investigation team, the probe could take ‘more time’, but he could not elaborate as to why it would take so long only to determine the cause of fire.

Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, meanwhile, appointed Karachi commissioner Roshan Ali Sheikh as the chairman of a committee tasked with the inspection of factories across the city within a month to check security measures and all due fire safety protocols.

“The committee is set to meet on Saturday to set a line of action and initiate the process. The committee also includes members of the industrial association, civil defence as well as provincial labour and industries departments,” said Mr Sheikh after a meeting at the Governor’s House.

Comments (6) Closed

Iqbal Hadi Zaidi Sep 15, 2012 12:59pm
How many factories have been checked by all the concerned government bodies in Karachi since the single fire in garments factory has killed around 300 persons? How many factories have been found which are functioning as per the laid out instructions and guidelines? Why not to flash the name of those factories which are defaulters? I am a bit saddened to read that Dr Irshad, Sindh Governr has given one month time to the committee to inspect all the factories and report to him about their status which is a commendable action in any case. However, he should have asked the committee to submit daily report of the factories which were inspected on the day so that the governor could order for next step on the same day rather than waiting for one month to get the reports of all the factories inspected in one month. Will all those who are found as defaulters will be punished or just let them go away to operate they like the most? What about factories in rest of the cities and towns of Pakistan? Iqbal Hadi Zaidi / Kuwait
Simon Sep 16, 2012 02:50pm
What is the take away from this horrific incident.... Are there any lesson learnt that this does not happen in other factories... People who are responsible for the safety of workers should make sure that all rule and regulation in this regard is followed and implement.
Najam A. Najmi Sep 16, 2012 07:01am
It is extremely sad state of affairs, my prayers for those who lost their lives, and heart goes out for the families. The Governor can form any committee he wishes to. However, what actions would be taken against those who are supposed to periodically inspect the fire/life safety, and working conditions in factories? I guess we all know the answer, they came, sat, talked and walked away silently after getting their monthly "stipends" from the factory owners.
True Pakistani Sep 15, 2012 09:36am
- to investigate a fire of this size and nature one needs investigators, who KNOW some thing. this cannot be expected from the so called pakistani investigators. in addition as is their wont they can and will be bribed to say any thing that the power-that-be wants them to. remember this is pakistan and not finland.
Hrleen Sep 15, 2012 04:27pm
I have sympathy for the workers and their families as most of them are from lower middle class of the society. They chose to work hard to earn their living in an unsafe environment not knowing that someone`s negligence will cost them their lives. Governments in south asia need to pay more attention to safety measures in place at workplaces.
Abdul Malik Sep 15, 2012 04:38pm
Why is the good for nothing governor Sindh waking up now? Was he waiting for such a disaster to occur before appointing this so called commission? Where were Sindh government's industrial safety dept prior to this horrifying incident?