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Fatalities in Bangladesh shipbreaking industry unceasing

The tragedy occurred at around 5.45 PM as a heavy metal cable collapsed on the workers, who were scrapping the ship CSL Virginia. The deceased have been identified as Aminul Islam (50) and Tushar Chakma (25). The injured were admitted to hospitals in the city of Chittagong. At the time of the accident at least 55 workers were deployed in the yard. A police case has been filed at the Sitakunda Police Station.

On 31 July 2019, three workers were killed and another six were injured in an incident on the MT ATLAS ship at Mac Corporation, which is one of the oldest shipbreaking yards in Sitakunda. The employer sent workers to scrap the ship’s fuel tank without following appropriate safety procedures. This led to a leakage of toxic gas which killed the workers.  On the same day another worker Yousuf (45) was killed at Nazia Re-rolling mill at Gamariltol, North Shonaichori, after he was hit by a piece of iron.

On 23 July one worker, Shahidul Islam (30), died at the Kabir Steel shipbreaking yard in Sitakunda as he fell from the upper portion of a ship into an empty tank.

At least 14 workers have been killed in the shipbreaking industry so far in 2019 in Bangladesh, based on reports in the public domain. A recent news article published by IndustriALL in May 2019, provides details of accidents since January this year.

Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL shipbreaking director, says:

“We strongly condemn the unceasing fatalities in the Bangladesh shipbreaking industry. These incidents show that lack of government supervision and employers’ negligence continue to kill workers. The Bangladesh government must act quickly to implement the Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act of 2018 and ratify the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.”

Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia Regional secretary said:  

“We clearly see that almost all of these accidents are absolutely avoidable. Laxity on the part of government and shipbreaking employers continue to kill workers. The government of Bangladesh should immediately step up the efforts to improve safety in Bangladesh shipbreaking yards.”

Photo: An image of CSL Virginia (first ship from the left) after its arrival in Chittagong © NGO Shipbreaking Platform

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