Karachi: At least 14 people were today killed and more than 50 others injured when a series of explosions rocked an oil tanker that was being dismantled at a ship- breaking yard in Pakistan’s southern Balochistan province.
The fate at least 30 workers remains unknown following the explosions at the Gadani shipbreaking yard, where more than 100 people were working on the 8-foot-high ship at the time.
Police and rescue officials said at least 14 bodies have been recovered. “We are not sure how many workers were inside the tanker when the explosions occurred, but the number is said to be around 100,” area SSP Raja Ashfaq said.
Deputy General Secretary of the National Trade Union Federation Nasir Mansoor said there could be up to 200 workers trapped inside the tanker. “We are trying to get the figures.” Gadani is world’s third-largest shipbreaking centres – after Alang and Mumbai – where more than 15,000 workers are directly employed while another two million indirectly earn their livelihoods from it.
Ashfaq said the injured had been shifted to hospitals in Karachi. He said most of the dead where those workers who had tried to jump into the sea and drowned or were burnt alive.
Some workers remain trapped inside the ship and a fire engine at the scene was unsuccessful in putting out the fire, reports said.
Naval fire engines and a helicopter reached the site this evening to help in rescue operations.
“The rescue work is taking time because the ship is big and the flames have engulfed it from inside and small explosions can be heard taking place,” the SSP said.
About eight explosions occurred in the oil-tanker due to gas-welding work, and more explosions were feared.
A loud blast rocked a ship docked in the shipbreaking yard, setting the ship on fire. More than 25 people have been rescued, an official of Edhi Trust welfare foundation said.
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident.
Sharif also ordered an inquiry into the incident.
The Edhi Trust official said the death toll is feared to could go up. PTI
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