Pakistan Factory Fires Kills Hundreds of Workers


Adelle Platon | September 12, 2012 - 1:52 pm

A massive factory fires took the lives of over 200 people and injured dozens in two major cities in Pakistan Tuesday night.

According to the Guardian, a shoe factory in the eastern city of Lahore and a garment factory in the southern port of Karachi lacked clear escape routes, trapping many inside the buildings. The fires reportedly broke out when people in the building were trying to start the generator after the electricity went out. Sparks from the generator came in contact with the chemicals used to make the shoes, igniting the blaze.

Workers who were fortunate enough to flee recalled how some of their colleagues had to break through windows and jump to the ground below. “I jumped from my seat as did others and rushed toward the windows, but iron bars on the windows barred us from escaping. Some of us quickly took tools and machines to break the iron bars,” said Mohammad Ilyas, an injured factory worker. “That was how we managed to jump out of the windows down to the ground floor.” The deadlier blaze took place in Karachi, killing 100 people.

Such safety hazards are common in Pakistan, where many buildings lack alarm and sprinklers. “There were no safety measures taken in the building design. There was no emergency exit. All the people got trapped,” said senior police official Amjad Farooqi.

Our thoughts are with the families affected.