Large factory fires kills more than 216

Burned factory in Pakistan 
By: Eva Fett 

(Scroll down for video) One of the largest fires ever broke out in Pakistan this week.

The death toll from a pair of devastating factory fires that broke out in two major Pakistani cities rose Wednesday to 216 people, many of whom died because they could not escape the building without emergency exits and basic safety equipment, such as alarms and sprinklers.

These security issues are common in Pakistan, where many factories are built illegally in densely populated cities in the country, and owners often pay bribes to officials to turn blind eyes. The number of deaths caused by the two fires that occurred Tuesday night, could trigger calls for better monitoring of industrial safety.

The deadliest fire was in a clothing factory in the southern city of Karachi, the economic heart of the country. The death toll from the fire rose to 191 on Wednesday, as firefighters continued to fight the fire, said Roshan Ali Sheikh, a senior government official in Karachi. It was one of the worst industrial accidents in Pakistan’s 65-year history.

Most of the deaths were caused by suffocation as those trapped were unable to escape the building that was filled with smoke, said the senior firefighter in Karachi, Ehtisham-ud-Din. There were no emergency exits and the doors were locked, he said. It is unclear what caused the fire.

Factory managers have fled and are being sought by police, said Sheikh, the top government official in Karachi. The authorities have put the names of the owners of the factory on a list of people, who are not allowed to leave the country, Sheikh said.