Pakistan, Ali Enterprise, accident at works, Shadi Khan Saif, Naeem Sahotara

This month makes the first anniversary of Pakistan's worst industrial disaster.

In September last year a fire in the Ali Enterprise garments factory in Karachi left 250 dead.

Among the dead was a 28 years old Saeed George.

It’s a time to pray….remember and grieve.

Candles are lighted, rose petals thrown on the pictures of dead loved ones.

In September last year a fire in this garment factory killed more than 250 people.

Most of them were young men, the breadwinners of their families….

They left behind young widows and young children.

53-year-old Elizabeth George spent the anniversary here in church.

Her 28-year-old son, Saeed George’s body was burned so badly that it was unrecognizable. 

“My son left school in the 7th grade so that he could work and support me and his sister. His father is a drug addict and jobless. Saeed was determined to help us out from poverty.”

In this small house Saeed’s parents, two uncles, two cousins and their families live together.

His youngest sister Maria really feels his absences.

“I feel his need everywhere I go, I wish he was alive with us. Whenever we face emergency sort of situation at home, for instance when someone is sick, we always miss him a lot.”

Saeed’s cousin Khuram Lazarus was the last person to talk to him alive.  

He called from his mobile phone.

“He said, ‘Breathing is no longer possible, too much fire and smoke is around. I request everybody whom I might have bothered to please forgive me.’”

They searched hospitals and morgues for weeks trying to find his body. 

Finally some 17 anonymous and unrecognizable bodies were collectively buried.

And Saeed was one of them, says Maria. 

“We haven’t burried him with our own hands. We miss the peace of mind. Others have burried their dead loved ones but we haven’t.”

Ali Enterprises' factory was caught fire when a boiler exploded and the flames ignited chemicals that were stored in the factory.

Between 300 and 400 workers were inside the factory when the blaze erupted.

Activists like Farhat Parveen say the factory was a disaster waiting to happen.

“In Ali Enterprises there were no fire alarms so the departments above and below the burned department did not know that there is a fire in the factory, this is what caused most of the casualties.”

A criminal case against the owner is still being heard in the Provincial High Court.

The court granted bail to all the accused, including factory owners.

The charges have also been reduced from murder to negligence.

Shazia Hanjra is the state prosecutor.

“Police in every case is supposed to work for the state not for the accused. Now, what police has done is actually favoring the accused persons.’’

Like many victims of this industrial disaster, the George family has very low expectations from the slow and long lasting legal proceedings.

For now, they’re focusing on surviving without the family’s main money earner.

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