JNN 12 Sept 2012 Karachi : The official death toll from a garment factory fire in Baldia Town area of Karachi has been revised downwards to 258 from 289, as the city’s top administration official said Wednesday.
“The death toll is 258. This is not final, search for more bodies continues,” commissioner Karachi Roshan Shaikh said.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Shaikh said that the dead also included women and children, adding that 95 bodies were shifted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, 71 at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and 92 at the Civil Hospital, Karachi.
Amongst the dead, DNA samples of 85 bodies have been obtained, however their identities could not be ascertained yet.
Unidentified bodies were shifted to the Edhi morgue where an information cell was also established to help the families to identify their missing loved ones.
Earlier at the site of the incident, Karachi police chief Iqbal Mahmood had said rescue teams were still trying to gain access to parts of the factory, which caught fire late on Tuesday, and the death toll could rise.
The chief justice of Sindh High Court has taken a suo motu notice of the fire incident.
An initial report of the incident has been submitted to the Sindh government.
According to the report, workers had arrived at the factory to receive their pays at the time of the incident and all doors had been closed to prevent theft.
Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon confirmed the findings, adding that the shut exit doors resulted in the massive loss of life.
Memon said the government would bear all the expenses of those who were injured.
Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad said that appropriate action will be taken against those responsible for the incident. “We will inquire against the owner of the factory. We have even put his name in the ECL (Exit Control List),” he told the media. He has also announced a day of mourning on the city on Wednesday.
The factory belongs to Ali Enterprises, which is owned by Abdul Aziz and Shahid Bhaila. The company is a member of the Pakistan Hosiery Association and an active sales and income tax filer.
Our correspondent reported that the basement is now being emptied of water and then the bodies, around 50 in number, will be recovered.
The Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) has announced of waiving all existing outstanding electricity bills of the affected families.
According to a press release published online, the KESC said that the electricity bill payment for the next six months will also be exempted for the bereaved families.
Fire department officials said that they had managed to control fire in most parts of the factory and were now trying to recover bodies from the building.
The factory structure, having been exposed to a sweltering blaze for over eight hours, was now in a precarious condition with cracks appearing in its walls. The building had sagged from one side and rescue officials too had warned that the building could collapse at any moment.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) , Jafaria Alliance Pakistan (JAP) and Majlis e Wahdat e Muslimeen (MWM ) announced it would mark three days of mourning to mark the deaths of the scores of people killed in factory fires in Karachi and Lahore.
In a statement issued early Wednesday morning, the party announced that it would put up black flags at MQM offices and party activists would wear black armbands as well as attend the funerals of those killed. The party clarified that businesses would remain open on its day of mourning.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain and the Coordination Committee have asked the provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab to investigate what transpired and take action against those responsible for the fires.
In a statement, Altaf asked the provincial governments to make this a matter of priority and to inform people of the facts within three days, otherwise the MQM would have no choice but to make its own policy to protect people’s lives.