Many people jumped out of the windows of the three-story building in panic because there were too few emergency exits. Some of the survivors had suffered serious injuries.
Most of the workers died of smoke poisoning, according to doctors. Some bodies were burned beyond recognition. Many victims were found in the cellar rooms. Police, however, fear that the death toll will continue to rise as rescue workers have not been able to reach all parts of the destroyed factory even hours after the fire.
The fire broke out on tuesday evening. Firefighters needed almost the whole night to bring it under control. The cause of the fire was initially unclear. Pakistani media speculated that the generator was defective. Sparks may have ignited cotton bales and chemical dyes. Police, meanwhile, are launching a broad search operation for the owners of the factory, where, according to workers, among other things, linen was produced.
Survivors reported horrific scenes on pakistani television. "We were at work when suddenly there was fire and smoke everywhere," said one worker. "The heat was so intense that we rushed to the windows and tore out the iron bars in front of them."During the rescue jump from the second floor he broke his leg. Others, according to the reports, did not succeed in rubbing off the safety grids. They remained trapped in the burning factory.
Small and medium-sized factories in pakistan are particularly affected because of poor safety standards, for example in electrical wiring. In many places there are no adequate escape routes. Only a few hours before the fire in karachi, at least 21 people had been killed in a massive fire in a plastic factory in the city of lahore in eastern pakistan.