More than 300 people died in devastating fires that swept through factories in Pakistan's two largest towns, local media reported on Wednesday.
At least 289 people died overnight at a garment factory in Karachi, the South Asian nation's biggest city and commercial capital, hours after another 25 people died at a shoe factory in the eastern city of Lahore.
“The number of victims rose to 289 people, and this is not the final figure as the search for bodies continues,” DawnNews television cited local officials investigating the Karachi fire.
Karachi fire chief Ehtesham Salim said the disaster was Karachi's "biggest fire in terms of deaths in decades".
According to some media sources, dozens of local residents attempted to storm the Karachi factory on Wednesday to search for their missing relatives, but they were stopped by police.
The fires at both facilities, which officials said had lacked proper ventilation and had no fire exits or fire sprinklers, were reportedly caused by faulty electricity generators. Most of the dead succumbed to burns and smoke inhalation.
The garment industry employs 20% of Pakistan's workforce and is a major source of export revenue. However, many factories are set up illegally in densely populated cities, and industrial safety at the facilities is practically non-existent.