Press Release – NGOs denounce death toll of shipbreaking and call for an urgent move of the industry to safe and sustainable platforms

Published in September 17th, 2021

In the last weeks, seven workers tragically died while dismantling vessels in Bangladesh and Turkey. 


Five workers were killed and three severely injured in seven separate accidents on the infamous shipbreaking beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh. The fatalities were caused by explosions, falls from height, falling steel plates and exposure to toxic fumes.   


On 12 August, an iron piece fell injuring Alim, a cutter man who was dismantling the FSO DARING LIBREVILLE (IMO 9002623) at Mother Steel shipbreaking yard. The vessel was owned by Thai shipping company Nathalin Co Ltd. A month later, on 14 September, an explosion of an oxygen cylinder killed another worker at the same yard onboard the same unit.  


On 19 August, Rakib fatally fell from another FSO, the ENERGY STAR (IMO 9118393), owned by Thai shipping company Prima Marine PCL.  


On 20 and 21 August, two accidents happened at S.R.S Ship Breakers onboard the ship TABERNACLE PRINCE (IMO 8400579), owned by Sri Lankan company Tokyo Cement Co Lanka. The workers, Dahranjan Tripura and Dhonesshor Tripura, died after having inhaled toxic fumes. Dahranjan died on the spot during an illegal night shift, whilst his relative Dhonesshor died at the hospital a day after the second accident took place.  


On 23 August, Roshed and Md. Biplob received severe burn injuries at Arefin Enterprise while cutting a pipe inside the MAX MORON (IMO 9138616), owned by Greek ship owner Tide Line Inc.  


On 24 August, Mohammed Ali lost his life while dismantling the Hong Kong-owned vessel HUA JIAN 107 (IMO 8421298).  


The terrible sequence of accidents in Chattogram, which increases the yearly death toll dramatically in such a short period of time, not only shows a lack of responsibility by shipping companies as they continue to sell their end-of-life vessels to be broken down under knowingly dangerous conditions, but also a lack of action by the Bangladeshi government to regulate the industry.  

"Bangladeshi authorities need to face their responsibility to protect their citizens’ rights and ensure the effective enforcement of the law. Business profits can no longer be privileged at the expense of human lives. Urgent action has to be taken against the industry at both national and international level to stop the incessant breach of basic human rights and environmental laws on the beach of Chattogram."
Sara Rita da Costa - Project Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In Aliaga, Turkey, last weekend, two workers lost their lives when a rope broke during dismantling operations. Veli Bal died on the spot, İlyas Bıdık died on the way to the hospital due to his injuries. The accident occurred at Metas ship recycling yard where not even two months ago another fatal accident killed two workers, Yılmaz Demir and Oğuz Taşkın. Metas is owned by EU-listed ship recycling yard Ege Çelik, which is located just few meters away.  

"The death of now four workers at Metas ship recycling yard raises serious concerns that vital occupational safety measures have been neglected. The operations at the yard must be stopped immediately to allow for a full investigation and to prevent any further accidents and loss of life."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Ship recycling is a heavy industry that involves the handling of many toxic substances and working at height as well as in confined spaces. To ensure the safety of workers and the protection of the surrounding environment facilities need have adequate infrastructure to allow for safe lifting operations and full containment of pollutants. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is calling for a move of the industry to dry-dock operations, compliance with occupational health and safety standards as well as established workers’ rights, and accountability for the management of hazardous wastes originating from ships in line with international law.