PESHAWAR/KARACHI – The happiness of Eid was spoiled for dozens of families affected by two fierce factory infernos in Peshawar and Karachi, renewing for the nation the bitter memories of those over 300 people who lost their lives in last month’s tragic fires at Lahore and Karachi factories.
Police said the fire at Peshawar factory erupted when workers were cleaning the machines with petrol. Ten workers burnt in the fire were shifted to the Hayatabad Medical Complex and after receiving initial treatment they were shifted to the Khyber Teaching Hospital. Three workers were said to be in critical condition at the hospital.
According to local police, the labourers working in the chipboard factory had just come back for work after Eid holidays, and overhauling machinery with petrol when a minor blast took place and suddenly fire erupted.
Due to sever fire 14 labourers were burnt. They were identified as Sabir Khan, Shah Nawaz, Tahir Mehmood, Saeedullah, Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Abbas, Muhammad Arshad, Zahir Ali, Khalil, Muhammad Rashid, Muhammad Umair, Muhammad Shafiq and Sher Ali.
Separately, the Karachi fire, which broke out at the chemical factory in the SITE area on Saturday at around 12:30am, completely damaged the factory building before it was brought under control on Monday.
It caused large portions of the five-storey building to collapse and the authorities declared it dangerous. This massive fire in Gul Bai area also engulfed two adjacent buildings.
Fire tenders from across the city were called in to douse the blaze. More than 15 fire tenders, two snorkels and two fire bowsers took part in extinguishing the inferno. Teams of Pakistan Air Force and Karachi Port also participated in the rescue operation.
Later, the rescue operations were halted as the dilapidated factory building could collapse at any time.
Fire department officials said it was difficult to completely extinguish the fire because of the chemicals and plastic materials present inside the factory.
Fire-fighting officials declared the fire as a third degree inferno.
Two production units along with chemicals and other raw materials worth millions were reduced to ashes. But luckily no loss of life was reported in the incident.
Two factory fires in Karachi and Lahore on Sept 12, 2012 had shocked the nation. The death toll from the fire that ripped through a Karachi garment factory killed as many as 289 people, making it the largest number of casualties in a single industrial incident in country’s history.
A fire at an illegal shoe factory in Lahore the same day had burnt 25 workers alive, most of them teenagers.\
As the country is still grieved by that enormous loss of life, these two fresh incidents have brought the focus again on the lax labour laws and the culture of corruption that allows the scant regulations that do exist to be flouted.