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Death toll from Karachi factory fire reaches 289

KARACHI, PAKISTAN (BNO NEWS) -- A fire broke out at a clothing factory in the Pakistani port city of Karachi on late Tuesday, killing 289 people in one of the world's worst fire disasters in modern history, local authorities said on Thursday. A separate fire at another factory in Pakistan killed 25 others.

The blaze erupted on late Tuesday at the Hub River Road Garments Factory in Karachi and engulfed the multi-story building within minutes. Hundreds of workers were trapped inside the building because there were no emergency exists and windows had been barred with iron grills.

On late Wednesday, more than a day after the blaze erupted, Karachi Commissioner Roshan Ali Shaikh said the death toll stood at 289. Authorities said the blaze was extinguished by Thursday morning and water had been pumped out of the building's basement, with no additional victims found.

Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Administrator Muhammad Hussain Syed said the fire department reached the scene within 10 minutes and was able to rescue around 35 workers by cutting the iron grills on the windows. Fire tenders from the Pakistan Navy, Karachi Port Trust, Civil Aviation Authority and Pakistan Railway were also called to the scene to assist.

Hussain Syed, who described the blaze as a national tragedy, promised the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation will pay for all costs relating to the funerals of the victims. He said graves have been prepared at different graveyards across the city and said medical facilities are being provided to the injured.

The fire in Karachi came just hours after a blaze broke out at a shoe factory employing around 100 people in the Gulshan-e-Ravi area of Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab. At least 25 people were killed, including the factory owner and his son, while six others were taken to hospitals in critical condition.

Authorities said the fire in Lahore was caused by an exploding electric generator, setting fire to fifteen chemical drums. It took more than twelve fire brigades to extinguish the intense fire which took place in the Band Road area, where several factories operate illegally and lack safety facilities.

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