16 August 2010

Cylinder burst leaves 10 hurt in shipbreaking yard:

Chittagong, Aug 15 (Agencies): At least 10 workers were injured when fire broke out from burst of gas cylinder during shipbreaking at Sitakunda today.

Saiful (22), Nawab Ali (27), Milon Mandal (25), Belal (25), Roni (26), Razzaque (40) and Shahid (28) were admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) with severe burn injuries. Others were treated in local clinics. All the victims hailed from different areas of Jamalpur district.

Among them, Saiful, Nawab and Milon's condition was critical.

The accident took place at Z N Enterprise, a shipbreaking yard, owned by one Shawkat Ali Chowdhury, in Madam Bibirhat area of Sitakunda at 11:00 am Sunday.

Havildar Asim Kumar Barua of CMCH police check-post said, "The workers were brought to the hospital at around 12:30 pm."

Z N Enterprise manager Mohammad Rafique said that the workers were slightly burnt as a pipe caught fire while breaking an abandoned ship.

"Their condition is not that bad," he claimed.

Shipbreaking yards often witness deaths mostly due to lack of safety measures.

A vast industry: minimum care

Shipbreaking is flagged as 'Category Red', or 'extremely hazardous' industry in Bangladesh.

It produces thousands of tonnes of scrap iron used by re-rolling mills, but serious concerns prevail over work safety as well as environmental standards.

There are around 87 such yards in Sitakunda, where about 30,000 people are employed in hazardous working conditions, making it one of the largest shipbreaking centres in the world.

Workers dismantle ships by hand without proper machinery, protective gear or training. The yard owners also compel workers to dismantle ships without clearing them of toxic materials.

According to some estimates, at least 400 shipbreakers have died over the past 20 years in Sitakunda's yards.

30% of the world's abandoned ships are recycled in Bangladesh, and the shipbreaking industry creates tens of thousands of jobs and provides three-quarters of the country's demand of iron - but at a serious environmental cost.

Ships broken up in Bangladesh also routinely contain materials like asbestos, banned in many countries.

The government's attempts to impose strict environmental standards ended with an about-face within 3 months after strikes threatened the country's steel industry.

Source: The Financial Express. 16 August 2010

No comments: