The deadliest factory fire in recorded human history

Danyal Adam Khan in Dawn:

ScreenHunter_889 Nov. 13 14.48Two years after the incident, the relatives of the dead are as angry as they are heavy-hearted. Sometimes called Pakistan’s 9/11, the fire at the factory owned and operated by a textile exporter, Ali Enterprises, has left many unanswered questions in its wake. Why has it been left largely ignored? How have the deaths of so many people been brushed under the carpet by the state machinery that has failed to deliver both justice and compensation despite the passing of two years?

The Baldia incident holds the unfortunate distinction of being the deadliest factory fire in recorded human history. (Another fire the same day at a shoe factory in Lahore, which claimed 25 lives, only accentuated the tragic intensity of the deaths in Karachi.) The closest that another fire incident comes is the one that happened at Kader Toy Factory in Thailand in 1993, killing 188 people.

The Karachi incident bears striking resemblance to the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York which claimed 146 lives. The contrast between the two incidents is also striking. The New York fire led to a huge mobilisation among the labour force and consequently a drastic overhaul of the laws governing working conditions in industrial units (the building that housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is now declared a national landmark). Ali Enterprises in Karachi, on the other hand, remains abandoned; its blackened windows are a haunting reminder of dire working conditions and undelivered justice.

More here.