The fire started on 14 October as workers were breaking the oil tanker Kriti in the plot number 10 in the Gadani shipbreaking yard located in Baluchistan Province, Pakistan. The tanker is owned by an individual Alam Khan. Initial reports suggest that seven workers were injured as result of a fire, three of them are in critical condition due to severe burns.
The fire brigade had difficulty in reaching the site and putting off the fire. Edhi Foundation volunteers along with some union workers helped to rescue the victims, who were later shifted to a civil hospital in Karachi.
All the fire victims, including Abdul Qayoom, Khaliq, Muhammad Din, Muhammad Azam, Muhammad Akram, Muhammad Jabbar and Ehsan Ullah, were precariously employed workers.
Ironically, the tragedy happened just one day after Balochistan labour minister visited the yard and surveyed working and living conditions of Gadani shipbreaking workers. Fires at shipbreaking yards are not exceptional, last week there were fire accidents in the shipbreaking yards 6 and 7 , but fortunately no worker was injured. Following the accident Government of Baluchistan banned any kind of shipbreaking activity and assembly of workers in the area.
Atle Høie, Assistant general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union said,
“It is unacceptable that negligence towards safety and subsequent fire disasters continue in Gadani shipbreaking yards. Even after the massive tragedy in November 2016, which killed 26 workers and injured many more, the government and employers seem to have not learnt their lessons. Along with IndustriALL affiliates in Pakistan, we reiterate our demand to the government of Baluchistan to implement the shipbreaking code and to the government of Pakistan to immediately ratify and implement the Hong Kong International Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships.”
Kan Matsuzaki, director, ICT, electrical and electronics, shipbuilding and shipbreaking, said,
“Appropriate medical support and compensation should be provided to all victims of the disaster. We stand in solidarity with the victims and hope for their speedy recovery. In order to improve the safety standards at the yard government and employers must stop precarious work, recognize workers’ right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and implement labour laws and shipbreaking code in line with the Hong Kong Convention.”