Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Karachi Factory Blaze - A human disaster that could have been prevented

The death toll at the Karachi Baldia Town hosiery factory blaze has totaled 289 workers - something unbelievable and totally unforgivable for people responsible for it.


As can be seen from the above photo, the fire fighters are seen fighting the fire in ordinary clothes from 'outside' the factory which is why so many perished trapped inside the factory. It is not fault of this fire fighter because he was not provided with the fire fighting gear - dressed in ordinary clothes this was the best he could do. But why did not the fire department appropriately equipped to fight such fire battles?

It has also been reported on TV channels that this factory has had a history of fire break out at least three times before this dreadful incident, then:

What actions had been taken by the owners to prevent the disaster in future? 
Were there any safety exits? 
Were there fire extinguishers in all parts of the factory to arrest any such incident right from the outset? If the doors were electronically locked, what escape exits had been earmarked? 
Why the fire fighter did not have door breaking equipment?
And why it did not dawn on anyone to bring bulldozers to break walls or jammed doors?

Well there could be long list of questions, arguments and after thoughts, but the fact remains that we helplessly watched hundreds of workers being burnt to death and we did not do anything except watch.

And while watching the workers die inside the burning factory, a flash appeared that during Pervez Musharraf's time, a ban had been imposed on electrical inspections of factories in 2003. Well Musharraf has long since gone - more than five year. Why did not the present government undid the ban? Why throw blame of all wrong doings on the past rulers and get absolved of the responsibilities?

While the owners must trying to hide them and escaping police arrests, families are mourning the death of their bread earners. Even those who have been rescued must have had burns of varying degrees, which may be fatal. even if these rescued workers survive their burns, which I pray they should, they will have scars and disabilities for life unless adequately treated in the burn centers.

I think we need to realize that all lives are precious - whether of a rich man or a poor. While the rich can make arrangements for their safety, poor cannot and die in factory fires, mine blasts and other industrial accidents. Let there be an inquiry to book those whose negligence resulted into the lives of so many - from factory owners to the government high ups, who did not provide adequate equipment and training to fire fighters to fight fires as these are professionally fought. 

Le all factories be inspected and all safety precautions and arrangements installed, so that no future incident of the kind happens and robs families of their bread earners forever.

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