Shoe Factory Fire in Pakistan Kills 21 People

By ZAHEER BABAR | September 12, 2012

A fire that broke out in a factory in eastern Pakistan on Tuesday after sparks from a generator hit chemicals used to make shoes killed 21 people, a Pakistani police officer said.

Senior police officer Multan Khan said six people were also injured in the blaze at the factory in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province. Some of the people died from suffocation while others burned alive when the flames ripped through the chemicals, he said.

The fire broke out when people in the building were trying to start their generator after the electricity went out. Sparks from the generator made contact with the chemicals, igniting the blaze.

Pakistan faces widespread blackouts, and many people use generators to provide electricity for their houses or to run businesses.

Pakistani television showed pictures of what appeared to be a three-story building with flames leaping from the top-floor windows and smoke billowing into the night sky.

Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in a statement expressed his shock and grief over the deaths.

Many people in Lahore have set up shoe factories at homes and in residential areas. Many of the factories are ill-equipped and often lack modern fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers or sprinklers.

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