At least five people were killed and one other injured when a fire broke out in a ship parked on plot 60 of the Gadani shipbreaking yard in Hub on Monday, police sources said.
The ship belonged to ex-chairman of the Ship-breaking Yard Association, Rizwan Diwan Farooq, police said. Farooq was detained in Hub city after fleeing the shipyard when the fire broke out.
Over 55 labourers were working on the out-of-service LPG ship when the blaze started, police said.
Officials from the environment department said a chemical ‘foam’ present inside the ship was responsible for the fire.
They said all combustibles need to be removed from a ship before work is started, but the foam was not removed in this case, which signalled neglect.
Police sources pointed out that this was the same ship that caught fire in December last year.
According to the police, rescue workers were still looking for three people; Bashir Mehmood Dani, president of the labourers’ association, claimed that the number of missing people is eight.
Thousands of labourers work in perilous conditions, often for a pittance, at Gadani’s shipbreaking yards.
In November 2016, 26 people had been killed and 58 others injured during a series of explosions that occurred during work on an unused oil tanker at the yard.
Fires and accidents are common and the air is polluted, often causing health problems for the workers, who perform the often dangerous work of extracting ferrous and non-ferrous metals, steel pipes and valves, electricity cables, machinery and wood from derelict ships.
There is no government agency to monitor and evaluate the operations at the yard and there is a lack of health and safety standards for the dismantling and recycling of materials and metals.