39 dead in Pakistan factory blazes

Factory blazes in two of Pakistan's major cities have killed 39 people and injured dozens more, including some who leapt from the burning buildings to escape the flames.

First a fire swept through a shoe factory in the eastern city of Lahore, killing 25 people, said senior police officer Multan Khan.

Three people were also injured in the blaze, Khan said. Some of the people died from suffocation while others burned alive when the flames ripped through chemicals used to make the shoes and which were stored in the building, he said.

The fire erupted 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. The fire is likely to add to public outrage over the government's failure to provide sufficient power.

Firefighters broke holes in the solid brick walled buildings to reach victims inside. At the morgue, bodies were lined up on a hallway floor, covered with white sheets. One of the workers, Muhammad Shabbir, said all the chemicals and the generator were located in the garage, which was also the only way out of the building.

When the fire ignited, there was no way out. Mr Shabbir said he had just gone outside the factory when the fire started but his cousin was severely burned and died at the hospital.

The second blaze erupted in the southern port city of Karachi, which is considered the country's economic heart. At least 14 people were killed and more than 40 injured when a fire broke out at a garment factory, said an official at the Civilian Hospital in Karachi, Nazir Abbasi. All were workers at the factory.

Many of the workers were injured when they jumped from the burning building, said another doctor at the hospital, Karar Abbasi.

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