Deadly Gadani fire finally extinguished

After four days firefighters have finally managed to douse the terrible tanker blaze that killed many workers at a shipbreaking site in Gadani, Pakistan. Rescue work inside the hull of the Indonesian ship cannot start however as the steel plates are still too hot.

The accident happened Tuesday morning when a welder hit a fuel tank leading to a massive explosion and subsequent blaze. While there are now 21 confirmed dead, the eventual death toll could hit triple figures with many unaccounted for inside the hull of the ship and a number of the 60 workers sent to hospital deemed to have such severe burns that they are unlikely to survive.

The disaster has led to calls to ban recycling at Gadani after blatant safety lapses were revealed.

Authorities have set about arresting some of the yard owners and senior management.

“Health and safety must come first. This terrible blast could have been avoided. There is a clear lack of infrastructure and equipment in Gadani to prevent such a deadly accident. Rescue operations are extremely difficult due to the lack of ambulances and firefighting equipment and because rapid access to the ship and the workers that are still stuck inside is extremely challenging,” commented Abid Qaiyum Suleri, executive director of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) earlier this 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.


  1. What is so painful is that the vulnerable conditions at the site of the incident, the standard operating procedures (SOPs) NOT in place for dealing with hazardous wastes, specifically in ship-breaking and NO regulatory requirements in place for the same, were identified in 2013 study report by NGO Ship-Breaking Platform (Brussels) and SDPI (Islamabad) and communicated to the policy-makers at the report launch and again reminded in national stakeholders (including representatives of federal & provincial governments) workshop on the issue this year ( in June, 2016).
    A donors meeting for consideration of technical & financial assistance to meet the challenges towards improvement of conditions at the site and to implement control measures is expected to take place this month.

    Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja, Ph.D.
    NIC # 17301-7777962-9
    SDPI, 3rd Floor, Taimoor Chamber,
    10-D West, Fazal-e-Haq Road,
    Blue Area. Islamabad.
    051 2278134 & 36

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