KARACHI, Pakistan — At least 289 people have died in after a fire in a garment factory broke out on Tuesday evening. The cause of the fire is still unknown, and officials are attempting to locate the owners of the factory, who have fled following the incident.
According to local media, government officials and rescue workers are still on site, attempting to retrieve bodies from the factory building. They expect the death toll to rise, as the building, which has sustained structural damage, can collapse at any time. Most of the dead were young men and women.
The New York Times reported that close to 1,500 people worked in the factory, located on the fringes of Karachi, Pakistan's financial capital. The building only had one exit as other doors had been locked shut to prevent employees from leaving. Windows were blocked by metal grills.
“We found dozens of people dead in a large room of the factory’s basement. It was totally burnt and parts of it were smouldering, which we put out before shifting the bodies to hospitals,” said Karachi Fire Chief Ehtesham Salim to Dawn News. According to reports in local media, at least 65 other workers had suffered broken bones after jumping out of windows to escape the fire.