15 killed as fire engulfs Karachi chemical factory

Efforts underway to search for the victims — AFP

KARACHI: At least 15 people died in a fire that broke out at a chemical factory in Mehran Town Friday, rescue officials said according to Geo News.

The bodies of 15 labourers have been retrieved from inside the building so far and firefighting personnel are engaged in rescue operations. Many people are still trapped inside the factory.

The bodies have been shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC). According to the hospital management, so far seven bodies have been identified which include Salman, Farman, Hassan, Ali and Farhan.

The management added that Farhan, Ali, Farman and Hassan belonged from the same family.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah also took notice of the incident and directed the Karachi commissioner and the labour department to prepare a detailed report. 

According to fire brigade officials, fire broke out in a chemical drum and spread to other parts of the factory, meanwhile the fire brigade arrived late at around 10am to douse the blaze.

Rescue officials said they had asked for heavy machinery to break the factory walls. It is being reported that they are facing difficulties in the rescue operation due to heavy smoke. 

Two firefighters were also injured while trying to put out the blaze, Geo News reported.

In an update on the blaze, Chief Fire Officer Mubeen Ahmed told Geo News that 13 fire tenders and a snorkel were being used to put out the blaze.

He said a rescue vehicle and water board tanker were also present on the scene.

“There is only one way to enter the factory,” the chief fire officer said, explaining that the roof of the factory was also locked, making it difficult for the labourers to escape.

He said a search for the victims is under way.

The fire has been brought under control and the cooling process is underway, he said.

Eyewitness Accounts

According to eye witnesses and labourers, when the fire broke out there were 25  labourers present inside the factory.

“When we came in the morning  along with my four brothers, all four of them died during the incident,” he narrated.

Speaking to Geo News , the labourer  said that  he has no idea how did the fire broke out in the factory. “We were neither cooking food nor did we  see any short circuit, he said, adding that some of the windows were open and the fire somehow found its way  inside.

Officials reaction

Deputy Commissioner Korangi Samiullah Odho reached the place of incident after five hours. Odho said that  soon as he received the information he reached the spot.

Shedding light on safety of factory employees, the deputy commissioner said, “I don’t know how so many people died. I didn’t even know that the factory is in a residential building.”

However, he assured that he will investigate why the fire brigade did not reach there on time.  

Reacting to the news circulating regarding  delay in rescue service, Administrator Karachi Murtaza Wahab denied all allegations.

He said: “This is false that the fire brigade vehicles arrived late. The  fire broke out at 10:09 am and the vehicles left at 10:10 am.”

“And immediately after reaching there, relief operation was launched,” he Wahab added. 

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