The death toll from a recent explosion and fire at a Pakistan ship-breaking yard has risen to 20, officials said Saturday, as an inquiry committee met for the first time to determine responsibility.
At least 59 others were wounded early this week when a gas cylinder exploded and started a fire inside an oil tanker at the Gadani yard in the southwestern province of Balochistan.
“The death toll has now risen to 20,” Muhammad Hashim, commissioner of Kalat region of which Gadani is a part, told AFP.
“I have no confirmation about the missing,” he said when asked about claims by laborers’ that at least seven of their colleagues remained unaccounted for.
He said the contractor for the tanker work had been arrested and all ship breaking at the yard banned while safety standards are being reviewed.
A high-level committee formed by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to investigate the causes of the fire held its first meeting in the port city of Karachi Saturday and would finalize a report within a week, an official statement said.
Industrial accidents are common in Pakistan, with workplaces often forgoing basic safety measures and equipment in the absence of legislation to protect laborers.
A devastating fire at a textile factory in Karachi killed 255 people in 2012.