The Dangerous Life of Bangladesh Ship-Breakers

Collection with 24 media items created by Mais Istanbuli ★★★★★

10 Apr 2012 10:00

Ship-breaking is known as the breaking or recirculation of old ships for financial return. Old ships are sold so that the valuable steel can be reused. About 95 percent of a ship’s mass can be recycled.

Until the 1960s, ship-breaking was concentrated in western countries like the United States, Germany, United Kingdom or Italy. From the early 1980s, the majority of the world’s vessels taken out of service were sent to India, China, Pakistan or Bangladesh.

The workers at the ship-breaking yards in Sitakund, situated north of Chittagong in the Bay of Bengal, face the toughest working conditions of the whole country. Extremely hard labour, fatal working incidents, the exposure of abestos and toxic waste are among the deadly threats to those working in the ship-dismantling industry. Every step could be their last. Far away from their villages, the workers seldom see their families. They do all of this for only $1-3 per day.

Risky working conditions, environmental pollution and the adoption of child labor in the ship-breaking industry have drawn international attention on Bangladesh’s ship-dismantling. Changes occured but are far from international standards.

Over 100,000 workers are employed at ship breaking yards worldwide. It is estimated that some 50,000 people are directly employed in the ship-breaking industry in Bangladesh.

Local organisations in Bangladesh estimate that some 1,000-2,000 workers have died in the last 30 years, and many more have suffered serious injuries.

The ship breaking industry in Bangladesh is estimated worth an annual turn over of around 1.5 billion dollars.

Today access to the ship-breaking yards is very limited. Journalists and photographers, who covered grievance in the area, aren’t welcome anymore. The people of Bangladesh are aware of the problems and willing to change the situation.
The Labor Law Act 2006 has improved conditons on health, safety, working hours and compensation – but due to lack of political will and resources change is still not on the way.

Bangladesh South Asia Ship Boats Environemnt Workers Economy Recycling Ocean Photo Essay Photo Collec... Collection Waste Pollution Industry Danger Labor Law Safety Job Safety

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Ship-breaking yards (1 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

An injured employee at the ship-breaking yards grasps onto his wooden crutches. Over the last 30 years there has been over 1000 work related injuries as workers are exposed to extreme conditions with minimal safety precautions.

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Ship-breaking yards (2 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

Area at the ship-breaking yards in Sitakund, near Chittagong. Piece by piece ships are dismantled. Workers face tough conditions, extreme hard labor, fatal working incidents, the exposure of asbestos and toxic waste are among the deadly threats.

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Ship-breaking yards (3 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

Workers at the ship-breaking yards in Bangladeshi town of Sitakund use rope in order to dismantle a ship. The employees are exposed to tough working conditions with little labour rights.

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Ship-breaking yards (4 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

Workers at the ship-breaking yards in Bangladeshi town of Sitakund. In the majority of the shipyards, workers are being deprived of their rights. Fatal injuries are common. Safety and environment regulations during the dismantling process are mostly ignored.

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Ship-breaking yards (5 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

The Bangladeshi economy relies on income and employment for the ship-breaking industry, however, the workers are exposed to toxins such as asbestos and other materials that cause damage to their health.

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Ship-breaking yards (6 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

Workers at the beaches of Sitakund, Bangladesh - where ocean vessels are being dismantled within six months.

In addition to the health and safety issues, workers work extremely long hours for little pay, earning around 1-3 dollars per day.

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Ship-breaking yards (7 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

Ocean vessels, ready to be dismantled by Bangladeshi and migrant workers, are stranded at the muddy beaches of Sitakund, Bangladesh along with old life boats. The vessels are dismantled by the workers within six months. Safety and environment regulations are mostly ignored.

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Ship-breaking yards (8 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

Workers at an ocean vessel near Sitakund, Bangladesh dismantle a ship. Safety and environment regulations are mostly ignored.

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Ship-breaking yards (9 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

A worker is standing next to an ocean vessel that will be dismantled within six months.

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Ship-breaking yards (10 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

Barrels with oil are standing next an ocean vessel on the muddy beach of Sitakund Bangladehs. The vessel will be dismantled by workers within six months. Safety and environment regulations are mostly ignored.

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Ship-breaking Yards (11 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

A worker at Bangladesh's ship-breaking yards in Sitakund ist standing next to a big ocean vessel that will be dismantled within 6 months. Although this industry is very profitable, it carries a number of environmental and human health hazards. Ships are not properly cleaned before beaching and often discharge dangerous chemical and fumes.

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Ship-Breaking Yards (12 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

Life boats of dismantled ocean vessels cover the muddy beaches of Sitakund, Bangladesh after everything else of the ship has been cut off and sold.

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Ship-Breaking Yards (13 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

An ocean vessel at the ship-breaking yards of Sitakund, Bangladesh waiting to be dismantled by the workers. A worker at Bangladesh's ship-breaking yards in Sitakund is standing next to a big ocean vessel that will be dismantled within 6 months.

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Ship-breaking yards (14 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

A worker in the ship-breaking yard area near Sitakund, Bangladesh.

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Ship-breaking yards (15 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

Rooms where toxic waste of the ship-dismantling process is being stored. Nevertheless, environment regulations are often ignored and toxic waste and oil are discharged in the ocean.

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Ship-breaking yards (16 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

Ship-breaking yards in Sitakund, Bangladesh. In the majority of the shipyards, workers are being deprived of their rights. Fatal injuries are common. Safety and environment regulations during the dismantling process are mostly ignored.

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Ship-breaking yards (18 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

Workers at the ship-breaking yards at the Sitakund beach, where enormous ocean vessels are being dismantled. Some of the ships can measure up to 350 meter long and weight up to 10-15,000 tons.

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Ship-breaking yards (19 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

An enormous ocean vessel is being dismantled at the ship-breaking yards in Sitakund, Bangladesh. The demolition of ships is a very dangerous occupation. According to the Bangladeshi media, more than 400 workers have been killed and 6000 seriously injured, over the last two decades.

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Ship-breaking yards (20 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

A ship is being dismantled piece by piece at the ship-breaking yards in Sitakund, Bangladesh.

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Ship-breaking yards (21 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

The ship-breaking yards in Sitakund, Bangladesh. Between 1,000-2,000 people have died in this line of work in Bangladesh, according to local organizations.

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Ship-breaking yards (22 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

This is the area of ship-breaking companies in Sitakund, Bangladesh. Although this industry is very profitable, it carries a number of environmental and human health hazards. For example, ships are not properly cleaned before beaching and often discharge dangerous chemical and fumes.

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Ship-breaking yards (23 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

A huge ocean vessel is being dismantled by workers from a ship-breaking company in Sitakund, Bangladesh

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Ship-breaking yards (24 of 24)
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Michael Biach
10 Apr 2012

Ocean vessels are placed on the muddy beach of Sitakund where they will be dismantled piece by piece by workers from the ship-breaking companies.