Three workers died and at least six were injured following a toxic gas leak onboard a tanker being dismantled at a shipbreaking yard in Chattogram, Bangladesh, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform said.
The tragic incident occurred at the shipbreaking yard of MAK Corporation in Chittagong on Wednesday.
The three men lost their lives after inhaling toxic fumes from the gas leak, Sitakunda police station confirmed to Dhaka Tribune.
According to local reports, the gas leaked when the workers — who did not have any gas masks — were cutting the pipe in the ship’s engine room.
The ship in question is the 27,450 GT Medelin Atlas, previously owned by Indonesia’s Waruna Nusa Sentana. Earlier this year, the MR2 tanker was renamed and sold for demolition, VesselsValue’s data shows.
Authorities in Bangladesh have launched an investigation into the incident.
Only several days ago, a worker lost his life in an incident at another shipbreaking yard in Chittagong, while scrapping a vessel owned by Taiwanese shipping company Evergreen Marine. The man was cutting the containership Ever Union at Kabir Steel’s Khawja yard when he fell from a great height.
According to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform’s member organization Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), another worker lost his life in Chattogram at the beginning of July 2019. What is more, two men were killed in an explosion at Mahinur Ship Breaking yard in Chittagong in May this year.
The incidents are said to reflect the overall dire working conditions and substandard ship recycling practices at the country’s shipbreaking yards. Despite poor conditions at Bangladeshi beaching yards, shipowners continue to sell their vessels there in order to get higher prices for their ships.
A total of 193 ships were broken in the second quarter of 2019. Of these, 146 vessels were sold to scrapping yards in South Asia.
More than half of the ships sold to South Asia in the second quarter changed their flag to the registries of Comoros, Niue, Palau and St. Kitts and Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach.