Calls grow for Pakistan to adopt shipbreaking code in wake of last week’s deadly inferno

Calls have grown for dramatic reforms at the Gadani shipbreaking area in Pakistan following last week’s tragic blaze on a beached FSO which has resulted in 26 confirmed deaths so far with the eventual death toll expected to be significantly higher.

Work at the yard remains suspended today.

At a protest organised by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) yesterday the federation’s secretary general Nasir Mansoor called for swift change to the yard’s dire safety conditions.

Mansoor also demanded compensation of Rs3m should be paid to the families of the bereaved and Rs500,000 for any injured worker.

Another NTUF member Gul Rahman criticised the government’s limited response to the disaster. “Such apathy can be changed only through agitation by workers,” Rahman said.

The speakers at the protest called for a shipbreaking code to be instituted in Pakistan, noting how workplace accidents at Indian breaking yards had dropped since New Delhi put in its own ship recycling regulations.

Mystery remains over the number of casualties from the accident last week. Local reports suggest around 250 people were working on the FSO when the blast occurred with around 100 people still unaccounted for.

The government has formed an inquiry committee to find out what caused the deadly inferno. The committee held its first meeting in the port city of Karachi Saturday and said it would finalise a report within a week.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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