By Faraz Khan / Web Desk / Agencies / Saad Hasan
SINDH – KARACHI: The death toll from a garment factory fire in Baldia Town area of Karachi rose to 289 as more bodies were recovered from the gutted building, the city’s top administration official said Wednesday.
“The death toll is 289. This is not final, search for more bodies continues,” commissioner Karachi Roshan Shaikh told AFP.
Karachi police chief Iqbal Mahmood said rescue teams were still trying to gain access to parts of the factory, which caught fire late on Tuesday, and the death toll could rise.
The chief justice of Sindh High Court has taken a suo motu notice of the fire incident.
An initial report of the incident has been submitted to the Sindh government.
According to the report, workers had arrived at the factory to receive their pays at the time of the incident and all doors had been closed to prevent theft.
Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad said that appropriate action will be taken against those responsible for the incident. “We will inquire against the owner of the factory. We have even put his name in the ECL (Exit Control List),” he told the media. He has also announced a day of mourning on the city on Wednesday.
The factory belongs to Ali Enterprises, which is owned by Abdul Aziz and Shahid Bhaila. The company is a member of the Pakistan Hosiery Association and an active sales and income tax filer.
Express News correspondent Nadeem Ahmed reported that the basement is now being emptied of water and then the bodies, around 50 in number, will be recovered.
The Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) has announced of waiving all existing outstanding electricity bills of the affected families.
According to a press release published online, the KESC said that the electricity bill payment for the next six months will also be exempted for the bereaved families.
Fire department officials said that they had managed to control fire in most parts of the factory and were now trying to recover bodies from the building.
The factory structure, having been exposed to a sweltering blaze for over eight hours, was now in a precarious condition with cracks appearing in its walls. The building had sagged from one side and rescue officials too had warned that the building could collapse at any moment.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) announced it would mark three days of mourning to mark the deaths of the scores of people killed in factory fires in Karachi and Lahore.
In a statement issued early Wednesday morning, the party announced that it would put up black flags at MQM offices and party activists would wear black armbands as well as attend the funerals of those killed. The party clarified that businesses would remain open on its day of mourning.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain and the Coordination Committee have asked the provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab to investigate what transpired and take action against those responsible for the fires.
In a statement, Altaf asked the provincial governments to make this a matter of priority and to inform people of the facts within three days, otherwise the MQM would have no choice but to make its own policy to protect people’s lives.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune
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Indus Asia Online would like to convey it’s sincere condolences to our motherland’s “URDU SPEAKING SINDHI” families of Karachi who lost loved ones and friends in these fires and calls on the government of SINDH to ensure a credible and transparent investigation into their cause. The government departments responsible for the safety and welfare of, not only the deceased workers but, more importantly, those still living, must be taken to task. If there is any indication of negligence the department heads must be prosecuted. These departments were created for a specific purpose, to ensure safety for the workers, instead they appear to more concerned with feathering their own nests. The question then must be asked, what is the purpose of these departments? The ministers of labour and industries of entire province of Sindh must be investigated for their hand in allowing these factory owners to operate without any periodic regulatory compliance, monitoring & control.