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'We broke steel grilles and jumped'


The death toll from a garment factory fire in Karachi rose to 300 as more bodies were recovered from the gutted building, city fire chief Ihtehshamuddin said on Wednesday. 


Mohammad Saleem, 32, who broke a leg after jumping out of the second floor, said he and his colleagues were hard at work late Tuesday.

"It was terrible, suddenly the entire floor filled with fire and smoke and the heat was so intense that we rushed towards the windows, broke its steel grille and glass and jumped out," Saleem told AFP.


"It was extremely painful. I saw many people jumping out of windows and crying in pain for help," he said.


Around 150 employees were working at the time in one of the factory's three round-the-clock shifts, Saleem said.


Officials said the cause of the fire was unknown but Rauf Siddiqi, the industry minister for the southern province of Sindh of which Karachi is the capital, said the owner was under investigation for negligence.


Abdus Salim, a doctor at Karachi's Civil Hospital, said bodies were badly burnt and that at least 65 other workers suffered broken bones after jumping out of windows to escape the flames.


Salim called the factory dangerous, saying it had been flimsily built, lacked emergency exits and had developed cracks in the walls, which was also putting rescue workers at risk.


"It was packed like a box with little room left for ventilation. There were no emergency exits," Salim said.


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