15 June 2010

environment - Bangaledesh - City of Shipbreakers

Hell on Earth. Deviant Art contributor Vitaly S. Alexius captures gripping images from the dead city where rusted shipping vessels are torn apart. Some quotes:
"There are places on our planet, which literally resemble hell on earth... closed off to the tourists, where no photographers are allowed… and those that do, get their cameras taken away and arrested by the police…

Along the coast of Bangladesh are the ship breaking installations, where freighters and tankers are torn apart by hundreds of gritty, lean, strong, bronze-skinned, men--by manual labor.

These ShipBreakers scrap the world's ships with little more than their bare hands.   ...they say it is better to work and die than to starve and die.
[place] exists because of the tide. It is one of those places -- like the Bay of Fundy in Canada -- where a host of geographical circumstances come together to create exceptionally large differences between the twice-daily high and low tides. Coupled with a soft, shelving beach, the tides at Alang make shipbreaking possible with a minimum of construction. There are no piers or drydocks. Ships are simply run onto the shore.

There are no cranes, no special equipment, no safety of any kind. Often, shipbreakers don't even have shoes. They carry metal scraps through the water, often cutting themselves on metal that litters the beach.

Dangers arise very often: in fires caused by improper oil containment inside old tankers that catches fire from the welding; asbestos and poisonous smoke that fills in the air from the ship-cutting:

"There is a shadow of death on this place," says Ram Lalit, a 22-year-old worker. "This place is haunted by it."
See what the area looks like from the air
and watch a 60 Minutes video about where ships go to die.

IMAGE CREDITS: The first two are unknown, the third, © 2000 Edward Burtynsky - Shipbreaking - Chittagong - Bangladesh. For a size perspective, do a simple left click of the mouse, then look in the lower right corner to see two men standing on the ship's rib section.

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