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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.