Karachi factory had several emergency exits, all locked

Karachi factory had several emergency exits, all locked

The factory in this Pakistani port city where as many as 289 people were killed in a major fire had several emergency exits, but all of them were locked, said an official.

The blaze started Tuesday from the basement and gutted three other floors of the building, said the official.  He said the building had several emergency exits but all of them were locked permanently, reported Dawn.

The Karachi blaze was one of the worst infernos the country has ever seen. It broke out a few hours after another fire at a factory in Lahore left 25 people dead. While many died in Ali Enterprises that produces garments for export, dozens of workers escaped death by jumping out from windows of the multi-storeyed factory building located in densely-populated Baldia Town.

Shehzad Ali, 47, who jumped out to save his life suffered a pelvic and an arm fracture. He said there were more than 500 people, including 50 women, inside the factory when the fire engulfed the building.

The pace of retrieving the bodies picked up momentum at night when rescue workers finally broke down one of walls of the building to get access to the first and second floors.

Soon, the recovery of the bodies outpaced the availability of ambulances parked outside the building. Salim Ehtasham, chief of the Karachi fire department, said: "...Most of the people were found dead in the basement and on the first floor of the building. Bodies are charred beyond recognition and in some cases one can't identify a victim's gender."