17 October 2011

4 Die From Toxic Gas in Ship’s Graveyard:

Four labourers died and two others fell sick after inhaling toxic gas while dismantling a ship at a shipbreaking yard in Baro Aulia of Sitakunda in Chittagong yesterday (16 October).

3 days ago, 2 workers died and 2 others fell ill owing to inhalation of poisonous gas trapped inside a tank of a scrap vessel at another shipbreaking yard in Sitakunda.

After yesterday's incident at Baro Aulia, 6 injured workers were taken to Chittagong Medical College Hospital around 8:00pm. Doctors declared 4 of them dead, said on-duty police officer Yusuf at the hospital police box.

Deceased Yunus Ali, 25, of Bogra, Gias Uddin, 25, and Nesar Uddin, 24, of Banshkhali and Mir Kashem, 22, of Moheshkhali were workers of Jiri Subedar Shipreaking Yard.

Injured Golap Hossain, 27, and Nozir Hossain, 35, are now undergoing treatment at the CMCH.

All the 6 victims entered a tank of the ship to make it gas free, said a worker of the yard preferring not to be named.

Probably, a CO2 gas leak caused their deaths, said the worker who took them to the hospital.

Safar Ali, president of Shipbreaking Yard Sramik Kormochari Federation, accused the owner of the yard of not having the necessary safety measures in place.

Lokman Hossain, owner of the shipbreaking yard, informed police that some of his workers fell sick while working at the yard at about 6:30am, said Habibur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Sitakunda Police Station.

“We have sent an officer to get details of the incident,” the OC added.

This year, with yesterday's accident, the number of casualties from shipbreaking yard-related accidents rose to about 40, raising questions about the role of the departments concerned.

Shipbreaking yard owners have been conducting operations in their shipyards without adequate safeguards for years.

On March 5, 2009, the Supreme Court directed the government to ensure the safety of those working at shipbreaking yards.

The government has so far failed to comply with the directive, as it continues to allow the yards to operate without ensuring workers' safety and also without obtaining environment clearance certificates.

Source: The Daily Star. 17 October 2011

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