After Pakistan fire, police probe factory owners

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KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistani police registered a murder case against the owners and managers of a garment factory in the southern city of Karachi after a fire swept through the building and killed 258 people, many of whom were unable to escape because the exit doors were locked, a senior police officer said today.

The fire is being described as the deadliest industrial accident in Pakistan’s 65-year history, and highlighted the woeful safety conditions that exist at many factories around the country.

The fire started when a boiler exploded and the flames ignited chemicals that were stored in the factory, which manufactured jeans and other clothes for export. Between 300 and 400 workers were inside when the blaze erupted.

In Pakistan, police must register a case as the first step in an investigation. They recommend whether charges should be made once the probe is complete.

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