World's biggest ship graveyard - where huge tankers and cruise liners are scrapped on the shorefront and workers toil for £2 a day

By Staff K 0

  • Massive Gadani ship-breaking yard stretches some 10kn along the coast near Karachi, Pakistan
  • Workers are paid a pittance to work in filthy and dangerous conditions but there is not shortage of recruits
  • The facility reduces around 100 ships a year into sheets and angles of metal, pipes and working machines
  • It produces about a million tonnes of steel fulfilling most of Pakistan's demand for metal from the construction sector

By Daniel Miller

PUBLISHED: 08:56 EST, 14 May 2013 | UPDATED: 11:28 EST, 14 May 2013

This is the biggest ship graveyard in the world - where huge tankers and cruise liners are scrapped on the shorefront by teams of labourers using little more than hand tools.

The job is considered one of the most dangerous in the world with workers earning a pittance of just £2.25 a day. But amazingly there is no shortage of willing recruits.

They come from a nearby squatter settlements and every morning swarm a 10k stretch of sandy beach at Gadani in Pakistan.

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End of the line: Two huge tankers are hauled onto the sandy shore at Gadani in Pakistan where they will be broken up and sold for scrap

End of the line: Two huge tankers are hauled onto the sandy shore at Gadani in Pakistan where they will be broken up and sold for scrap

Hard graft: A worker uses a gas-powered blow torch to cut through steel plate as he dismantles a section of a ship at Gadani in Pakistan

Hard graft: A worker uses a gas-powered blow torch to cut through steel plate as he dismantles a section of a ship at Gadani in Pakistan

Toxic: Oil from the condemned tankers is siphoned off to be sold at market before the ships are broken up for scrap

Toxic: Oil from the condemned tankers is siphoned off to be sold at market before the ships are broken up for scrap

Over the course of the day, they combine muscle with machine to split vessels a thousand times bigger than their homes.

'Men die, break legs, and tear muscle, but work never stops,' said 30-year-old Muhammad Shakeel.

Shakeel had taken over a job from his ageing father a few years earlier and worked with younger brothers Wakil and Ismaiel.

Hulk: The bow of a giant tanker which has been partially dismantled sits on the beach at the Gadani ship-breaking yard near Karachi

Hulk: The bow of a giant tanker which has been partially dismantled sits on the beach at the Gadani ship-breaking yard near Karachi

Hundreds of labourers who risk their lives at the ship-breaking yard earn just £2.25 a day

The brothers siphon oils left inside the ships and pack them in steel barrels before they are sent off to the market.

Gadani is located 65K south-west of Karachi on a secluded stretch of coastline.

It is the third largest ship-breaking yard in the world, after Alang in India and Chittagong in Bangladesh.

 VIDEO  AlJazeera TV document the lives of the ship graveyard workers... 

Workers break up a ship at Gadani ship-breaking yard in Karachi, Pakistan, the biggest of its type in the world

Workers break up a ship at Gadani ship-breaking yard in Karachi, Pakistan, the biggest of its type in the world

Rusting sections of ships' hulls lie on the beach where they will be broken down into smaller parts and sold as scrap

Rusting sections of ships' hulls lie on the beach where they will be broken down into smaller parts and sold as scrap

Pollution: Workers are covered in dirt and oil as they haul a barrel before it is sent off to be sold at market

Pollution: Workers are covered in dirt and oil as they haul a barrel before it is sent off to be sold at market

A picture taken from inside a partially - dismantled ship shows the sheer size of the Gadani ship breaking yard

A picture taken from inside a partially - dismantled ship shows the sheer size of the Gadani ship breaking yard

Metal : Steel plating from ships' hulls is stacked into a pile prior to being loaded onto trucks and hauled off to be sold for scrap

Metal : Steel plating from ships' hulls is stacked into a pile prior to being loaded onto trucks and hauled off to be sold for scrap

Break time: Workers share a small plate of spicy lentils and a stack of naan breads

Break time: Workers share a small plate of spicy lentils and a stack of naan breads

Expanse: The vast ship-breaking yard stretches some 10kn along the coast near Karachi, Pakistan

Expanse: The vast ship-breaking yard stretches some 10kn along the coast near Karachi, Pakistan

Workers busy breaking a ship at Gadani ship-breaking yard in Karachi, Pakistan

Workers are dwarfed as they swarm over the huge deck of an old oil tanker at Gadani ship-breaking yard in Karachi, Pakistan

A Pakistani worker peers out of a hatch on board one of the condemned tankers at the Gadani ship-breaking yard

A Pakistani worker peers out of a hatch on board one of the condemned tankers at the Gadani ship-breaking yard

A worker poses for a photograph while busy managing the heavy equipment used to break-up the massive ships

A worker poses for a photograph while busy managing the heavy equipment used to break-up the massive ships

A worker hoists an empty barrel of oil above his head (left) while another uses a hammer to break up a small piece of scrap at the Gadani ship breaking yard 

The facility tears down an average of 100 ships into sheets and angles of metal, pipes and working machines, every year.

They produce about a million tonnes of steel sold domestically in Pakistan - most of it fulfils demand for metal for the construction sector.

It takes an average of six months for a ship to be broken at bigger facilities like Alang and Chittagong, but just four months at Gadani.

One of the labourers squats on top of a metal cylinder as he use a blow-torch to cut away a section of rusted metal

One of the labourers squats on top of a metal cylinder as he use a blow-torch to cut away a section of rusted metal

A tired-looking worker takes a moment's rest as his colleagues toil on in the background

A tired-looking worker takes a moment's rest as his colleagues toil on in the background

Mammoth task: The facility tears down an average of 100 ships into sheets and angles of metal, pipes and working machines, every year

Mammoth task: The facility tears down an average of 100 ships into sheets and angles of metal, pipes and working machines, every year

Not a drop wasted: A barrel of oil salvaged from a tanker is rolled onto a lifting truck to be sold at market

Not a drop wasted: A barrel of oil salvaged from a tanker is rolled onto a lifting truck to be sold at market

Exhausted workers take a break inside one of the condemned ships at the Gadani ship breaking yard

Exhausted workers take a break inside one of the condemned ships at the Gadani ship breaking yard

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