KARACHI: Though the deadly fire at the Gadani ship-breaking yard became uncontrollable for firefighters, the spirit of the Edhi Foundation workers did not waver. They were the only welfare organisation that could be been seen in the area since the fire broke out.
Late philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi’s son, Faisal, and 18-year-old grandson, Saad, remained at the site, working side-by-side with other Edhi Foundation volunteers.
The labourers of the ship-breaking yard lauded the efforts of the Edhi Foundation, who proved that the family and volunteers have continued the legacy after the death of Abdul Sattar Edhi, as this was the first major disaster incident after the death of Edhi in July this year.
Young Saad, who had been wearing the same clothes for the past two days and a red cap with ‘Edhi’ emblazoned across it, scoured the sea from a boat for bodies.
“I was very young [when I started rescue work],” he recalled. “I guess I was around seven years old when in October, 2005, the deadly earthquake struck the northern areas of Pakistan. After that, I joined hands with my father and grandfather.” He also went to Nepal in 2015 to help with relief efforts during the earthquake.
Faisal, on the other hand, pointed out that around 60 vehicles, two boats and over 150 volunteers of the Edhi Foundation are involved in the rescue operation.
So far, 19 bodies have been recovered but not even one belongs to labourers working inside the ship, which has ignited a fear of how many more casualties will be discovered and what will be the condition of the bodies as only bones will be found in such great heat, said Faisal.
He said that they do not have sufficient rescue equipment to counter such a horrendous fire. Faisal added that ship-breaking is a billion dollar industry, which should have its own rescue department but the lives of workers are not a priority here.
He also said that absence of a labour union is a big reason why these ship-breaking yard owners have their own laws and are only concerned with how much they can earn, instead of focusing on the workers who earn billions for them.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2016.
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