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Pakistan registers murder case in factory fire

Pakistani police registered a murder case against the factory owners of a garment factory over a fire that killed over 250 workers.

Pakistan factory fire murder case september 13 2012Enlarge
Pakistani Muslims offer funeral prayers of garment factory workers who were killed after fire erupted the factory in Karachi on September 12, 2012. Pakistani police registered murder cases against the factory owners and managers on September 13, 2012. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistani police registered a murder case on Thursday against factory owners, managers and government officials in connection with the more than 250 deaths in a factory fire, according to Agence France Presse.

Workers at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi either suffocated or were burnt alive when a massive fire engulfed the building during an evening shift on Tuesday, said AFP.

Nearly 600 people were working in the poorly maintained building, which had no emergency exits. Dozens jumped from the higher storeys to escape the fire.

The Associated Press noted that the fire is being described as the deadliest industrial accident in Pakistan's history, highlighting the poor safety conditions and building violations that regularly go unpunished by the government.

Registering a case against the owners does not mean they will be charged with murder, said the AP. The police must register a case in order to launch an investigation, and can only recommend charges after the probe is complete.

More on GlobalPost: Karachi factory fire kills at least 289 (PHOTOS)

"We have registered a murder case against the owners of the factory and several government officials for showing utter negligence to provide adequate security to the factory workers," said head of the local police station Mohammad Nawaz Gondal, according to AFP.

According to CNN, that includes factory owner Abdul Aziz, his two sons, the managers of the factory, shareholders and government officials who failed to enforce safety regulations. Aziz and his two sons are believed to be in hiding.

The cause of the fire was a boiler explosion, which then spread to chemicals that were stored in the garment factory, said the AP. The exit doors were locked, supposedly in response to a recent theft.

CNN noted that Karachi authorities lowered the death toll on Thursday from 289 to 258. The higher toll was made amid confusion, but the latest toll was based on the number of bodies recovered, said Karachi Fire Department Chief Ehtesham Salim.

Karachi shut down on Thursday to mourn the deaths, with schools and colleges closed and public transportation suspended as families arranged dozens of funerals, said AFP.

More on GlobalPost: Shoe factory fire kills more than 20 in Pakistan's Lahore: official

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/120913/pakistan-registers-murder-case-factory-fire