|Pakistani firefighters conduct rescue operation at the garments factory in southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, Sept. 12, 2012. A huge fire that broke out in a garments factory in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi on Tuesday evening has been put out after nearly 11 hours of hard efforts by fire fighters, announced Ehtishamuddin, Chief Fire Officer of Karachi, on Wednesday. Up till now, a total of 166 people have reportedly been killed in the fire. (Xinhua/Masroor)
ISLAMABAD, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- A total of 166 people have been confirmed dead in a garments factory fire that broke out in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi on Tuesday evening, Roshan Ali Sheikh, Commissioner of Karachi, said Wednesday.
This is the first official figure announced by the Karachi government about the casualties of the fire since it broke out at about 6:00 p.m. local time Tuesday at a four-storeyed concrete factory building in the western part of the city.
Roshan Ali Sheikh said that the mass casualties of the fire happened due to the closure of the emergency exits by the factory' s owner.
Hospital sources said that many of the victims died because of suffocation.
Karachi's chief fire officer announce at about 11:30 a.m. local time, the fire had been put out. The announcement came nearly eleven and half hours after the fire was reported.
Lack of enough water available at the fire site and fire fighting equipment such as snorkels and oxygen masks have seriously affected the rescue work.
Rescue workers said a dozen of bodies of the workers have been found lying in the basement and on the first floor of the building. However, it will take them another three to four hours to recover the bodies as the building could collapse at any moment after burning.
Both Pakistani president and prime minister have expressed sorrow over the massive loss of lives in the factory fire. Prime Minister Ashraf, who is currently on a visit in China, has instructed relevant authorities to give the best medical treatment to the injured people.
Governor of Sindh Province with Karachi as its capital announced a one-day mourning for the fire victims Wednesday.
Industrial Minister of the province has announced a compensation of 500,000 rupees (about 5,300 U.S. dollars) and 200, 000 rupees (about 2,100 US dollars) each for the killed and injured in the fire, respectively.
Police department of the city has put the name of the factory's owner on the Exit-Control-List to prevent him from fleeing the country. A manhunt for the owners is already on the way.
This is the second serious factory fire reported in the country over the last 24 hours. On Tuesday afternoon, a fire broke out at a shoes factory in the country's eastern city of Lahore, which has so far killed 26 people and injured another 26.
The cause of the Lahore fire is determined to be short circuit in the factory. However, the cause of the Karachi factory fire is still unknown though some of the local media speculated that the fire could be caused by short circuit resulted from heavy rains that had battered the city for the last few days.