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At least twelve dead after huge blast at Pakistani ship-breaking yard

01 November 2016

At least 12 Pakistani workers were killed and more than 50 injured on November 1 after a series of blasts ripped through an oil tanker at the Gadani ship-breaking yard, with others trapped inside, local officials said. At least 58 were injured in the explosions, many with severe burns, a senior administrative official in the area told Reuters.

Stock image
Stock image

The Deputy General Secretary of the National Trade Union Federation, Nasir Mansoor, told the Tribune newspaper that over 200 workers were trapped inside the burning vessel. Local sources said many jumped overboard to escape the blaze.

The fire started in the fuel tank of an oil tanker being taken apart in the yard, according to DawnNews. Workers carrying out gas welding work started off a string of explosions, and more are feared because of the expanding blaze.

Pakistan Today said firefighters were waiting for the fire to die out as they had no foam to douse it.

Labourers in Gaddani often work in poor conditions without basic protective gear. The yard has fallen on hard times recently and employs about 9,000 workers, often unregistered labourers, fewer than in its boom years at the end of the last decade. 

It is located some 50 kilometres northwest of Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, and spans ten kilometres of beachfront. An average of 100 ships are torn down in Gadani every year, producing around one million tons of steel sold mostly domestically to the construction sector in Pakistan.

It has 132 ship plots and is considered to be the third largest enterprise of its kind after Alang in India and Chittagong in Bangladesh.

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