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Pakistan: Fire in garment factory kills at least 289 workers

A fire in the “Ali Enterprises” garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan, which made ready-to-wear clothing for Western export, killed at least 289 people on 9/12 2012. One child is among the dead. Other people were severly injured after jumping out of the windows of the four floor building. People could not escape the building because it lacked emergency exits and the windows were closed with metal grilles. Most of the deaths were caused by suffocation as people caught in the basement were unable to escape when it filled with smoke.

The day after the tragedy, the cause of the fire was still unclear. It was suspected though that the factory used generators to face the lack of energy which happens frequently in Pakistan. A faulty electricity generator thus could have caused the blaze. Karachi fire chief Salim said the factory was packed with workers, leaving little room for ventilation.

Many industries and businesses are said to avoid the implementation of laws on safety and fire exits, due to the lack of effective monitoring. Additionally, many factories are set up illegally and owners allegedly often pay officials bribes to look the other way.

The local police said they registered a murder case against the owners of the factory and several government officials.

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