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Shipbreakers | Photojournalist: Jana Ašenbrennerov

Shipbreakers | Photojournalist: Jana Ašenbrennerov | PHOTOGRAPHERS |

Chittagong is one of the biggest ship breaking yards in the world. It is graveyard where ships are taken from all around the world for their last voyage, to be taken apart. 

Know for unsafe work practices and environmental pollution due to the demolition and ship breaking processes, Chittagong presents one of the biggest industry and job opportunities for many Bangladeshis.

Some 30, 000 workers are engaged in this scrapping in Bangladesh's Sitakunda coast, which houses the world's second largest ship-breaking industry after China. At least 250,000 people in the country live off the industry directly and indirectly, according to experts.

The industry is a critical contributor to the low-income country's economy, and Bangladesh relies on ship breaking for 80% of its steel needs. But along with the recyclable materials comes a lot of toxic junk and hazardous material such as asbestos.

Often unaware of the risks they face on a daily basis by carrying heavy loads, directly touching materials that are known to cause cancer (asbestos), the workers rarely take these risks into consideration. "I don't see any danger" said a 17 year old worker.

Living in a 3rd world country, taking care of a family, the priorities of workers in the yards of Chittagong have a different order. To be without a job, letting their families go hungry, represents a bigger treat to these men then working in an environment that can eventually lead to health issues or early death. 

Copyright Jana Asenbrennerova 2010 

Collaboration on access and text with Syed Zain Al-Mahmood

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Bangladesh, ship business | Photojournalist | Shiho Fukada 深田 志穂

Bangladesh, ship business | Photojournalist | Shiho Fukada 深田 志穂 | PHOTOGRAPHERS |

Ship breaking yards are the last resting place for end of life ships. At these yards, ships are scrapped, primarily for their steel content.
Until 1980s, ship breaking took place in the developed countries such as the United States, UK, and Europe. Today, however, most ship breaking yards are in developing nations, principally Bangladesh, China, and India, due to lower labor costs and less stringent environmental regulations dealing with the disposal of lead paint and other toxic substances.

Every year 600-700 sea vessels are brought to the beaches of Asia for scrapping and 52% of large ships are scrapped in Bangladesh.
Workers have no unions, no safety equipment, and no training. About 50 are said to die in accidents each year; often in explosions set off by blowtorches deep inside the fume-filled holds.

Photo report's insight:

Shiho Fukada 深田 志穂 is a Japanese photojournalist currently working out of Beijing, China. Her clientele consists of The New York Times, MSNBC, Le Monde, the Chicago Tribune and the New York magazine, among others. She won the Grand Prize in Editor and Publisher Magazine’s Ninth Annual Photos of the Year contest in 2008. Fukada also won an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship in 2010 to research and photograph Japan's disposable workers.

Fukada majored in English literature and first worked in fashion advertising as an account executive. She borrowed a 35 mm SLR camera and started making photos.

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