Aftermath of explosion at Pakistani ship-breaking yard

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By Syed Raza Hassan | ISLAMABAD

At least 12 Pakistani workers were killed and more than 50 injured on Tuesday after a huge blast ripped through an oil tanker at a ship-breaking yard, trapping others inside the vessel, local officials said.

The leader of a ship-breaking workers union said fire had engulfed the vessel moored in Gaddani, 28 miles northwest of the port city of Karachi.

See pictures from the scene of the explosion:

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Aftermath of explosion at Pakistani ship-breaking yard
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Aftermath of explosion at Pakistani ship-breaking yard

Pakistani workers look at the wreckage of a burnt out ship a day after a gas cylinder explosion at the Gadani shipbreaking yard, some 30 miles west of Karachi, on November 2, 2016. The death toll from an explosion and fire at a Pakistan ship-breaking yard has risen to 17, officials said Wednesday, as a search continued for more victims.

(RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

Smoke rises from the burning oil tanker as media vehicles are stationed at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan, November 2, 2016.

(REUTERS/Akhtar)

Rescue workers walk near the burning oil tanker at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan, November 2, 2016.

(REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro)

Rescue workers and family members of missing laborers gather and wait near the burning oil tanker at the Gaddani ship-breaking yard, in Pakistan, November 2, 2016.

(REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Rescue workers gather near the burning oil tanker at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan, November 2, 2016.

(REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro)

Rescue workers move a man who was injured after an explosion at the Gadani ship-breaking yard, at a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, November 1, 2016.

(REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro)

A man takes photo of his colleague with a mobile phone on the burning oil tanker at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan, November 2, 2016.

(REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

People stand near a burning ship at the explosion site in southwest Pakistan's Hub, Nov. 1, 2016. At least 10 laborers were killed and over 50 others injured in an explosion during work on a dismantled ship at a ship-breaking yard in Pakistan's southwest Hub district on Tuesday, officials said.

(Xinhua/Stinger via Getty Images)

Pakistani men gather as they wait for missing relatives in front of a burnt ship a day after a gas cylinder explosion at the Gadani ship-breaking yard, some 30 miles west of Karachi, on November 2, 2016. The death toll from an explosion and fire at a Pakistan ship-breaking yard has risen to 17, officials said Wednesday, as a search continued for more victims.

(RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

People stand near a burning ship at the explosion site in southwest Pakistan's Hub, Nov. 1, 2016. At least 10 laborers were killed and over 50 others injured in an explosion during work on a dismantled ship at a ship-breaking yard in Pakistan's southwest Hub district on Tuesday, officials said.

(Xinhua/Stinger via Getty Images)

A Pakistani man takes pictures in front of a burning ship after a gas cylinder explosion at the Gadani shipbreaking yard, some 30 miles west of Karachi on November 1, 2016. At least 11 people were killed and 59 wounded, when a gas cylinder exploded and started a fire inside an oil tanker being broken up for scrap in southern Pakistan, officials said.

(RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistani firefighters use a hose as they attempt to extinguish a fire on a ship after a gas cylinder explosion at the Gadani shipbreaking yard, some 30 miles west of Karachi on November 1, 2016. At least 11 people were killed and 59 wounded, when a gas cylinder exploded and started a fire inside an oil tanker being broken up for scrap in southern Pakistan, officials said.

(RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

People stand near a ship on fire in the coastal town of Gadani, Pakistan, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. An explosion on the ship at a breaking yard in southwest Pakistan on Tuesday killed many laborers and wounded dozens of others. A police official says an oil tank exploded while workers were dismantling a ship, which then caught fire. Initial reports indicate dozens of laborers remain trapped after the blast in the coastal town of Gadani.

(AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

Pakistani security officials carry a body following an explosion and fire on a ship, in the coastal town of Gadani, Pakistan, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. An explosion on the ship at a breaking yard in southwest Pakistan on Tuesday killed many laborers and wounded dozens of others. A police official says an oil tank exploded while workers were dismantling a ship, which then caught fire. Initial reports indicate dozens of laborers remain trapped after the blast in the coastal town of Gadani.

(AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

A Pakistani looks at a ship on fire in the coastal town of Gadani, Pakistan, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. An explosion on the ship at a breaking yard in southwest Pakistan on Tuesday killed many laborers and wounded dozens of others. A police official says an oil tank exploded while workers were dismantling a ship, which then caught fire. Initial reports indicate dozens of laborers remain trapped after the blast in the coastal town of Gadani.

(AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

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"Things are really bad here," union president Basheer Mehmoodani told Reuters by telephone. "There's an unclear number of workers said to be trapped in the burning ship."

At least 12 people were killed and another 58 injured in the blast, said Zulfiqar Bokhari, a senior administrative official in the area.

Nasir Mansoor, a representative of the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan, said the explosion sent pieces of metal flying up to one mile away.

The blast occurred in the fuel tank of the ship, which was still on fire, he said.

Firefighters from Karachi and from the air force and navy were attempting to put out the blaze, he said.

Mansoor said the firefighters would have to wait for the fire to die out "as they lack the foam required douse it."

Laborers in Gaddani often work in poor conditions without basic protective gear.

The Gaddani ship-breaking industry has fallen on hard times recently and employs about 9,000 workers, fewer than in its boom years at the end of the last decade.

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