KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) – At least 16 people were killed in a factory fire on Friday in Pakistan’s largest city and financial hub, Karachi, raising questions about the industrial safety in a country not new to such accidents.
The fire broke out at a multi-story chemical factory in eastern part of the city, and most windows of the factory were blocked, police and fire officials said.
Many factory workers died after being trapped on the second floor in the fire, which broke out on the ground floor of the three-story factory.
“At least 16 people have died in the fire,” Saqib Ismail Memon, deputy inspector general of Karachi’s eastern part, told Reuters.
Private television channels’ footage showed thick grey smoke billowing out from the top floors of the factory.
“The factory had only one entry point, which was also being used as exit, and the roof exit was blocked, which badly hampered rescue efforts,” Mubeen Ahmed, chief fire officer of the fire department, told a Geo, a private television channel.
Over 260 workers were burnt alive when a multi-storey garment factory was set on fire in September 2012 in what became the deadliest industrial blaze in Pakistan’s history.
Blazes and accidents are common in South Asia’s factories, many of which operate illegally and without proper fire safety measures.
(Reporting by Raza Hassan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)