Karachi factory fire: Out of 259 dead, only 140 identified as yet

Published: September 13, 2012
Around 115 bodies have been handed back to families for burial. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Around 115 bodies have been handed back to families for burial. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

A vigil organised in the memory of those who died because of the fire. PHOTO: REUTERS Map showing the place where fire broke out. Around 115 bodies have been handed back to families for burial. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

KARACHI: With over 200 dead in country’s worst industrial disaster, only 140 bodies had been identified by Thursday morning, while 115 bodies have been handed back to families for burial, city police chief Iqbal Mehmood told AFP.

According to Sindh police surgeon Dr Kamaluddin Shaikh, around 259 people have died because of the fire.

Workers were suffocated or burnt alive at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, which made ready-to-wear clothing for Western export, when a massive fire tore through the building during the evening shift on September 11.

Up to 600 people were working inside at the time, in a building that officials said was in poor condition without emergency exits, forcing dozens to jump from upper storeys to escape the flames, but trapping dozens in the basement where they perished.

Mohammad Bakhsh, 60, burst into tears and hugged his teenage grandson outside the Civil Hospital morgue when he was informed that son Mohammad Ashraf’s body had been identified.

“We are doomed, it is doomsday for us, Allah will help us to survive,” he sobbed.

Even 36 hours after the disaster began, several families still gathered outside the gutted factory hoping for news of their loved ones.

Just a few fire tenders were still working. There was thick smoke in the basement and it was still too hot to go inside, where boiling water formed a pool after firefighters spent hours hosing the flaming building.

“The place is too hot and smoky, it is too risky to go inside and clear the building. We are waiting for now,” chief fire officer Ehtesham Salim told AFP.

Ambulances continued to ply back and forth to the factory, even as funeral prayers for some of the dead had already begun.

Mohammad Arshad, a labourer, erected a tent outside his house in an impoverished neighbourhood near the factory for the funerals of his brother and sister-in-law.

“My elder brother and his wife worked in the factory and both have been missing since the incident. We’re not optimistic now and have arranged for their rituals once their bodies are identified,” he said, his eyes brimming with tears.

The couple’s children, a 13-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son have not yet been informed their parents are probably dead, he said.

“They are too young and already confused. We’ll tell them once the bodies arrive.”

Owners must speak up

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, while speaking to media at the site of the incident, said that the owners have gone into hiding but cannot leave the country as their names have been placed in the Exit Control List (ECL).

“The owners must come forward and speak the truth, otherwise it can be assumed that they were responsible for the incident,” adding that the culprits wont be spared.

Shah also announced a compensation of Rs 0.5 million for families of the dead, while Rs 0.2 million for the injured.

Earlier, Sindh Labour Minister Ameer Nawab claimed that Shah had stopped him from taking action against factories violating labour rules.

According to the initial inquiry report of the fire, negligence on the part of factory owners and government departments resulted in the incident, Express News reported.

The report states that there was no emergency exit in the factory which employed more than 400 labourers.

Entities held responsible for the incident include factory owners, management, share holders, and labour, building control, electric, environment, social security and civil defence departments.

Sindh government has requested all concerned authorities to submit a complete inquiry report within three days so that those responsible for the tragedy can be punished.

‘One of the worst disasters in the world’

Speaking to the media in Lahore, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif termed the factory fire in Karachi as one of the worst disasters in the world.

He demanded that both the owners and concerned government officials should be held responsible for the incident.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Sindh Voice
    Sep 13, 2012 - 3:59PM

    Oh my God, what a tragedy.


  • Shafaq
    Sep 13, 2012 - 4:12PM

    Unforgettable Tragedy of our generation. May Allah rest their souls in peace (ameen).


  • Nadia
    Sep 13, 2012 - 4:31PM

    Hats off to MQM workers. Witnessed how hard they worked to help calm down the situation.


  • citizen
    Sep 13, 2012 - 4:31PM

    i have no words . it is an extreme tragedy . I cannot imagine the pain deceased underwent . Inalillah e wa inna ilay hay rajayoon What a moment of shame for all of us.


  • Rani
    Sep 13, 2012 - 4:35PM

    May their souls rest in peace!


  • Mosiqar
    Sep 13, 2012 - 4:39PM

    I live in city of Sterling Heights, small city population 100,000. City have 17 fully equipped fire station. Any 911 call, even it is health related 1st response is the fire department, Police and then EMS medical personal. All will happen in less then 3-10 minutes. Fire marshals inspect all public places including Musallah, Masjid or Churches. Our Namazi’s were putting shoes all over the corridor. After 2nd warning it was said. It is fire hazards in case of fire you can not have quick exit. Fix this problem or city will close this place. We built shoe rack and fix it



  • Raw is War
    Sep 13, 2012 - 4:42PM



  • Farooq
    Sep 13, 2012 - 5:12PM

    the worst part of this incident is still no help line or information no is declared to know the information about dear ones missing in this incident


  • Mr
    Sep 13, 2012 - 5:45PM

    Minister for Industries and Commerce Rauf Siddiqui should resign immediatly


  • Aamir Butt
    Sep 13, 2012 - 6:08PM

    @Nadia: cheers for you… You brought politics in this as well. Now go and salute your MQM leaders because you have made them proud.


  • jawed sarwar
    Sep 13, 2012 - 6:56PM

    In the recent tragedy the government officials are more responsible than the factory owner. Why in the first place the factory was allowed to function with 1200 workers in the factory without any
    provision of safety requrements or any escape route in case of fire. It is the government departments who issued NOC after getting bribes. Owner is less responsible than the officials who closed their eyes due to monetary gains and allowed illegal constrcuction of factory with only one entrance for such a large capacity worker.


  • Babloo
    Sep 13, 2012 - 8:24PM

    All the people dead where hard working individuals, trying to make a living.
    Thats why labour and worker safety laws are important and they should be enforced.
    May Bhagwan bless them and take care of their dependents.


  • s shah
    Sep 13, 2012 - 8:57PM

    Heart breaking to see the pictures of the relatives. A great tragedy, Inna Lilahi Wa Inna Elahi Rajeoon. May Allah SWT rest the souls of the departed in peace and grant them all Jannat and may He give sabr to their loved ones. A great shame that safety laws that are standard in other parts of the world were not in effect. The ordinary person in Pakistan is not safe even doing honest work for a living. Shame.


  • bella
    Sep 13, 2012 - 9:17PM

    im really feeliln sorry for the families who are going through this situation they never expected… i really really wish sum1 took step and came along with a revolution… we all have to stand against such intities who are making such uncertainities in oue country… God bless uss all …


  • bella
    Sep 13, 2012 - 9:34PM

    Im really feeling sorry for the families who are going through this situation they never expected… i really really wish sum1 took step and came along with a revolution… we all have to stand against such agencies who are making such uncertainties in oue country… God bless uss all …


  • Owais
    Sep 13, 2012 - 11:14PM

    Another tragedy that hit us. It is really getting to a point when it is pointless to debate on who, in our politics is corrupt and to what extent. The bottom-line is that they are all corrupt and need to be replaced. And since they are well guarded by their foreign Masters, I fear it may result in violence – the false, yet seemingly inevitable way.


  • devastated
    Sep 13, 2012 - 11:34PM

    @Jawed Sarwar …. you’re related to the owners it seems. They are all at fault. if the owners had even an ounce of humanity in them they wouldn’t have resorted to building up a factory devoid of any and all safety and security measures. there is no excuse for them whatsoever, as they are the ones who bribed their way through to get approvals and have that building turned into a garment factory. open your eyes and educate yourself. the government belongs to the inept lot any way …. and that is OUR fault. so if according to you they are more at blame than the low life savages who own this factory then YOU fellow citizen are even more at blame because you contributed to their election in the first place. congratulations, you have added the murder of approx 300 innocent lives to your resume’. Your statement disgusts meRecommend

  • casim
    Sep 14, 2012 - 12:00AM

    May the departed souls RIP & may Allah give strength to the families of victims in the Karachi & Lahore incidents.

    P.S MQM & PPP are responsible for not implementing labour laws & building regulations! none of them should be given any credit whatsoever! in Lahore PMLN failed. Our government has given nothing to common man, it is is extremely painful to see the sufferings of the poor & powerless people.


  • Khyber
    Sep 14, 2012 - 1:27AM

    May you all rest in peace…


  • Ch. Tahir
    Sep 14, 2012 - 1:32AM

    Huge loss must now stop.


  • k
    Sep 14, 2012 - 2:27AM

    govt is unable. poor people are used by rich industrialists to work in no-ISO certified and other usafe factories bcz they want bread. the justice is only for political parties but not for innocent people whose words are not listen by anyone. govt and judicary should make law to for labour rights.


  • LuvPak!
    Sep 14, 2012 - 7:27AM

    The problem with corruption is:
    It don’t end in robbing money but also include hiring Incompetent & Rishwat Khor officers and inspectors who Pass and ignore building Safety codes if their pockets are “warmed” by the law breaker, Until it result in such a tragedy.
    But citizens who break laws and pay Rishwat are actually the culprit who endorse such practices by rewarding the authority for ignoring them.
    So now such citizen have blood on their hands of these innocents here and anywhere in the country, from car crashes to fires to incompetent hiring, don’t forget that!


  • Rana Kamran
    Sep 14, 2012 - 9:45AM


    My her soul rest in peace. I personally request to all of Muslim community pray for him.


  • naveed
    Sep 14, 2012 - 9:52AM

    Ina Lillah e wa Ina Allaih e Rajeoon!


  • Samar
    Sep 14, 2012 - 3:49PM

    owners of factory and all Govt. institution pertaining to industries and labour laws are responsible for the tragedy. They all must be punished to death.


  • sadia
    Sep 14, 2012 - 4:27PM

    Inna Lillahe Wa Inna Ilaihe Rajioon


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