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The number of casualties resulting from a series of explosions at a ship-breaking yard in Gadani, Pakistan, was up to 11 on Tuesday morning. While 11 people have been confirmed dead, 50 were injured and 30 remain unaccounted for.
The incident happened at the third largest ship breaking yard in the world, on the Arabian coast of Pakistan’s Baluchistan’s province. Reports from the Indian Express indicate that the explosions occurred on an oil tanker that was in the process of being disassembled. At the time of the blasts, around 100 workers were trapped on the ship; others managed to jump overboard. A fire quickly engulfed the vessel as a series of eight explosions were heard throughout the ship.
Efforts to combat the blaze were slow, as only one fire engine was available and responders were fearful that more explosion were possible. A representative from Edhi, an ambulance service, reported that responders had found 11 bodies in the water and that body parts had also been retrieved.
According to Mohammad Abdullah, an official with the local police, victims were being transported to a hospital in Karachi. The Gadani Shipyard has a history of accidents, and workers there are frequently injured in the dismantling process, for the most part due to substandard safety practices.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered an investigation into the incident.
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The majority of the ship-breaking industry is located in the developing world, in countries such as Pakistan where safety conditions are not ideal. Other nations that host the highly lucrative industry include India, China, and Bangladesh. Unfortunately, these same countries have not met international standards for the industry, which include safety measures for workers. Working conditions do not meet health and safety standards, and workers are not well trained or compensated.
In a report compiled by the IndustriALL, a global worker’s union, Nazim Uddin, who is the head of the Bangladesh shipbreaking union, stated that abuse of the laborers goes unchallenged. Uddin said that workers face “miserable conditions, and while they are paid daily, there is no paid leave, no bonuses, and no guarantee of continued employment. According to Uddin, in Pakistan a shipbreaker’s family is entitled to approximately US $6400, but employers do not pay that benefit.
Pertinent to the incident in Pakistan, international guidelines mandate that all potentially dangerous materials, which include gasses and liquids, must be removed before the shipbreaking process can begin. However, dangerous substances are often still onboard, and the men who do the work are often not given the proper safety gear or equipment to do the job safely.
By Lincoln Brown for Oilprice.com
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Lincoln Brown is the former News and Program Director for KVEL radio in Vernal, Utah. He hosted “The Lincoln Brown Show” and was penned a…