Pakistani shipbreaking yard fire still raging 

Fire is still raging at the Gadani shipbreaking yard in Pakistan following a series of explosions aboard an oil tanker on November 1, according to IndustriALL global union.

The union added that up to 150 workers are still trapped inside the 1995-built tanker Aces, which supposedly ignited due to gas wielding processes undertaken during the dismantling work.

The Deputy Commissioner of Pakistan’s Lasbela District, Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah Hashmi, has ordered a stoppage of shipbreaking activities at all yards in Gadani, while the vessel’s owner has been arrested, IndustriALL’s affiliate confirmed.

Latest reports from National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) indicated that some 250 workers were enlisted for the dismantling of the tanker, which was beached at the Gadani yard in mid-October.

“A blast due to the presence of inflammable and toxic gases inside the fuel tank of the ship occurred at 9:40am and soon after it, the fire engulfed the ship,” NTUF said in a statement.

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“One of the reasons of the blast is that the workers were forced to start the dismantling process even before the fuel tank could be cleaned of leftover highly inflammable oil and its fumes. The breaking of a ship is done with gas wielding process which led to this disaster,” NTUF added.

NGO Shipbreaking Platform earlier indicated that twenty one people lost their lives in the accident, while some 60 workers were injured.

“This terrific accident is a painful reminder of the dangerous working conditions at the shipbreaking yards in Gadani,” Ingvild Jenssen, Policy Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, said.

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NGO Shipbreaking Platform has called for the closure of the Gadani beaching yards and for a move of the industry off the beach to areas that are under strict control, using alternative and safer methods in docks or along piers. 

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