Operation underway to rescue people stuck inside
Seventeen labourers were killed in a fire that erupted at a chemical factory in Karachi's Korangi on Friday.
The blaze started at 10am. Over eight fire trucks have arrived at the site.
The spokesperson of the fire brigade team has declared the blaze "third degree" because of the toxic chemical inside the factory. "There are some labourers still stuck inside the factory," he said. An operation is underway to rescue them.
Chief fire officer, Mubeen Ahmed, told SAMAA TV that the blaze erupted on the first floor of the building. "We are using snorkels and cranes to reach the second floor."
Ahmed added that the door to the roof of the factory was locked. "If the door was open, it would have been easier to rescue the labourers."
The Karachi Water and Sewage board has imposed an emergency at the Landhi and Sherpao hydrants.
KWSB MD Asadullah Khan has said a number of water tankers have been dispatched to the factory.
According to the residents of the area, the fire trucks arrived at the site two hours after the blaze started. Families of the labourers stuck inside the factory have gathered outside the factory.
The fire brigade teams are facing difficulties in the rescue operation because of the narrow lanes leading to the factory. An Edhi volunteer, Saddam, also sustained injuries while trying to extinguish the fire.
The police and Rangers personnel have cordoned off the area.
The bodies have been moved to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for identification.
In a media conference later in the day, Karachi Administrator Murtuza Wahab confirmed that the fire has been extinguished and cooling is underway.
"Twenty-one people were working on the first floor of the factory where the blaze erupted," he revealed. "So far, 10 bodies have been retrieved. They died from suffocation."
The police have been instructed to prepare an initial investigation report on how the fire started. "We are also seeing if there were proper emergency exits and fire extinguishers in the factory," Wahab added.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has promised free medical treatment for people injured in the fire. "We will provide all aid to the families of the deceased."
He has summoned a report from the Karachi commissioner and the labour department.
Rescue workers of welfare organisations clashed over lifting bodies after the fire broke out.
Workers of the Edhi and Chhipa foundations were seen fighting over bodies that were being recovered from the factory by a snorkel.
Saad Edhi of Edhi Foundation said the brawl took place due to lack of coordination, however, he added, that the situation is now under control.
Chhipa Foundation's Ramzan Chhipa said workers are very passionate about “serving first” and that might have been the reason behind the chaos.