Scores killed in Pakistan factory fires

2012-09-12 08:10
A fireman tries to extinguish a fire which broke out in a factory in Karachi, Pakistan. (Shakil Adil, AP)

A fireman tries to extinguish a fire which broke out in a factory in Karachi, Pakistan. (Shakil Adil, AP)

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Karachi - A fire raced through a garment factory in the Pakistani city of Karachi overnight killing up to 80 people, while another fire in a shoe factory in Lahore killed at least 25 people, police and government officials said on Wednesday.

"People started screaming for their lives," said Mohammad Asif, aged 20, a worker at the Karachi factory. "Everyone came to the window. I jumped from the third floor."

The fires could raise fresh questions about Pakistan's industrial safety. Critics say the government is too corrupt and ineffective to tackle an array of problems, from struggling industries to suicide bombings in the South Asian nation.

Senior Superintendent of Police Amir Farooqi said police were raiding parts of Karachi to search for the factory owners.

Farooqi said 35 people were injured in the garment factory fire and bodies were still being recovered from the facility which employed about 450 people.

The latest death toll was up to 80, according to Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon.

The cause of the garment factory fire was not clear.

"Within two minutes there was fire in the entire factory," said factory worker Liaqat Hussain, aged 29, from his hospital bed where he was being treated for full-body burns.

"The gate was closed. There was no access to get out we were trapped inside."

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