14 killed, 50 injured in explosions at Pak ship-breaking yard
At least 14 people were killed and over 50 others were injured when a series of explosions rocked an oil tanker that was being dismantled at a ship-breaking yard in Pakistan’s southern Balochistan province on Tuesday.
The fate at least 30 others remains unknown, following the explosions at the Gadani shipbreaking yard, where over 100 people were working on a 8-foot-high ship at the time.
Police and rescue officials said at least 14 bodies were recovered so far. “We are not sure how many workers were inside the tanker when the explosions occurred, but the number is said to be around 100,” area SSP Raja Ashfaq said.
Deputy General Secretary of the National Trade Union Federation Nasir Mansoor said there could be up to 200 workers trapped inside the tanker. “We are trying to get the figures.”
Gadani is world’s third-largest ship-breaking centres – after Alang and Mumbai – where over 15,000 workers are directly employed, while other two million indirectly earn their livelihoods from it. Ashfaq said the injured were shifted to hospitals in Karachi. He said most of the dead were those who had tried to jump into the sea and drowned or were burnt alive.
Naval fire engines and a helicopter reached the site in the evening to help facilitate rescue operations. “The rescue work is taking time because the ship is big and the flames have engulfed it and small explosions can be heard taking place,” the SSP said.
About eight explosions occurred in the oil-tanker due to gas-welding work and more explosions were feared.