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Death toll rises as accidents continue at Bangladesh shipbreaking yards

17 October, 2019Two workers died and at least three were injured in an accident at the OWW shipbreaking yard at Kumira ferry port area of Shitakund, Chattogram, on 12 October 2019, bringing to 23 the number of deaths recorded this year.

The accident happened as a fitter and a helper were working on tanks to release contaminated water. The water was released from one tank, but workers were not able to identify the point on the other tank to release the water.

They cut the tank, leading to the release of poisonous gas, which killed two workers on the spot, and caused three workers to fall ill. The injured workers were taken to Al-Amin hospital and released two days later. At the time of the accident, there were fifteen workers working on the ship. The deceased were identified as Saiful (26) of Naugaon district and Masud (21) of Barabkund area of Sitakunda.

In another accident on 14 October at Sagorika shipbreaking yard, two workers were seriously injured when a cylinder exploded. The injured, identified as Apu Marak Chakma (28) and Tapan Marak Chakma (30), were admitted to CHC hospital.

Local information reveals that from January 2019 to date at least 23 shipbreaking workers have been killed and at least 75 workers have been injured in accidents at Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards. A large number of the victims are young and precarious workers.

Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL Global Union director for the shipbuilding and shipbreaking sector, said:

“We strongly condemn employers’ negligence as absolutely avoidable accidents continue to claim workers’ lives. Employers and government should not abdicate their responsibility to ensure safe working conditions. We reiterate our demand that Bangladesh should expedite the process of ratifying the Hong Kong Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships.”

IndustriALL shipbreaking sector affiliates Bangladesh Metalworkers' Federation and Bangladesh Metal, Chemical, Garments, & Tailors Workers Federation continue to monitor the situation and express serious concern over unabated fatal accidents and employers’ negligence of occupational health and safety.