KARACHI, Pakistan — The death toll from a pair of devastating factory fires that broke out in Pakistan’s two biggest cities rose today to 314 people, many of whom perished because they were unable to escape buildings that lacked emergency exits and basic safety equipment such as alarms and sprinklers.
The horrific toll highlights the atrocious state of industrial safety in Pakistan, where many factories are set up illegally in the country’s densely populated cities, and owners often pay officials bribes to ignore safety violations.
The more deadly of the two blazes, which both erupted on Tuesday night, was at a garment factory in the southern city of Karachi, the country’s economic heart. 289 people died in that conflagration.
In the other incident, a fire swept through a four-story shoe factory in the eastern city of Lahore, killing 25 people. A firefighter, Numan Noor, said most of the victims died because the main escape route was blocked.