South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Seven workers were injured when a fire broke out at a ship-breaking yard at Madambibir Hat under Sitakunda upazila in the district yesterday.

The accident occurred at ZN Enterprise when an oil-tank of a scrap ship caught fire while the workers were cutting it around 11:00am using a gas cutter.

Sparks coming from the gas cutter caused the fire, said the authorities of the ship-breaking yard.

The injured were Mohammad Saiful, 22, Nowab Ali, 27, Milon Mandal, 25, Belal, 20, Mohammad Rony, 24, Razzak, 40, and Shahidur Rahman, 24.

They were undergoing treatment at the burn unit of Chittagong Medical College Hospital, said Mohammad Rafiq, manager of the yard.

Rafiq said the injuries were not severe as the fire was doused immediately after it broke out.

This ship was imported last December violating the Supreme Court order to clean up ships before bringing those to the country’s territory for workers’ safety.

Moreover, the Department of Explosives provided the safety certificate to the owner of the ship-breaking yard without examining if the ship was safe for scrapping.

Shawkat Ali, owner of ZN Enterprise, defended himself saying, “We have taken the certificate before scrapping the ship”.

The ship-breaking yard is running its business for years without any environment clearance certificate from the Department of Environment (DoE).

Asked about the certificate, the owner claimed they had applied for it a few years back.

However, DoE Inspector Saiful Ashraf who deals with the clearance certificate told The Daily Star that the company is yet to apply for the certificate.

Asked about the incident, Noor Mohammad, officer-in-charge of Sitakunda Police Station, said he was not aware of it.

This is the fifteenth accident after the SC directed the government to clean all toxic ships before importing.

In the last 16 months, 24 workers died while at least 24 others were injured for ignoring the court order.

Source: The Daily Star – 16.08.2010