ISLAMABAD, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- At least 116 people were killed in two separate factory fire incidents that occurred on Tuesday in Pakistan's two largest cities of Lahore and Karachi, said local authorities and media reports on Wednesday.
In the first fire incident at a shoe factory in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore in Punjab province on Tuesday afternoon, 26 people were killed and another 26 injured.
In the second incident which took place at a garments factory in the country's southern port city of Karachi on Tuesday evening, so far 90 people have reportedly been killed with more bodies yet to be recovered from the burned factory building.
The first fire broke out at a privately-owned unregistered shoe factory in the northern outskirts of Lahore at about 4:30 p.m. local time Tuesday. The fire first started from a generator supplying electricity to the factory and then spread to the chemical materials pile up nearby, which quickly engulfed the entire factory building with two storeys.
Initial investigations revealed that the fire was caused by short circuit.
It took hours for the fire fighters to put out the fire. The owner of the factory and his son were also killed in the fire.
Well before the shoe factory fire was put out, there came the reports that another fire broke out at a garments factory in the Baldia Town area in the western part of Karachi at about 6:00 p.m. local time. Initially the seriousness of the fire was ignored by local media as most of them were focusing on the coverage of the Lahore fire, however, as time passed on, it turned out to be a more deadly fire.
By the midnight of Tuesday, 18 people were reportedly killed in the garments factory fire. Earlier this morning, at about 5:00 a.m. local time, the death toll of the fire had been shot up to 60. Since then the figure has been on a consistent rise as more bodies were recovered and more deaths were reported from hospitals.
Many of the people died of suffocation in the fire, said hospital sources.
Fire fighters and rescue workers believed that there were still some bodies remaining trapped inside the badly burnt four-storeyed concrete factory building.
Due to the lack of water and equipment, the factory fire is still not brought under complete control by the time when the report is being filed.
Three hydrants nearby the fire site were running out of water and the fire fighters did not have enough water to refill their water tanks, said local media reports, adding that there were also not enough oxygen masks for the fire fighters and rescue workers.
Rescue workers said that the factory building, after more than 13 hours of burning, could collapse at any moment, posing a serious threat to rescue work.
Survivors had to be lifted down one by one from the top of the building by snorkels and this had also seriously affected the progress of the rescue work, they said.
Emergency was declared at hospitals throughout the city following the fire.
Hospital sources that many of the dead bodies were burnt beyond recognition. So far only some 25 bodies have been identified with the remaining dozens to be identified by DNA test.
Governor of Sindh Province, where Karachi is its capital, has declared a one-day mourning for the fire victims on Wednesday.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has expressed deep sorrow over the huge loss of lives in the Karachi factory fire in a statement issued Wednesday morning.
The provincial industrial minister of Sindh has ordered to sell the land of the factory and the money will be given to the affected people.
A compensation of 500,000 rupees (approximately 5,300 U.S. dollars) and 200,000 rupees has been announced each for the killed and injured respectively.
The police department has also issued an order to bar the owner of the factory from escaping from the country, said local media.