ISTANBUL – TDN with wire dispacthes
The use of workers rather than sandbags for a test run of the lifeboat of a ship was the cause of three deaths and 12 injuries in Istanbul's Tuzla shipyards late Monday, reports said yesterday.
The accident happened in the GİSAN Shipyard. According to reports, during the test run, the rope tying the lifeboat to the ship snapped and the boat crashed into the water, causing the deaths of Emrah Vatoğlu, 19, Ramazan Ergün, 36, and Ramazan Çetinkaya, 25. The deaths were due to crushing or drowning, reports said. Nineteen workers participated in the test run, with three dead and 12 wounded as a result.
Istanbul Governor Muammer Güler confirmed the death toll, noting that representatives of an international testing company were among the witnesses to the accident. Güler said lifeboats were usually used under extreme circumstances, arguing that experts needed to explain how the deadly accident could occur.
�The technical problem here is that fact that the boat overturned and its propeller hit something before hitting the water. The cause will be known after the technical investigation,� he said, noting that a criminal investigation had been initiated.
The Shipyard, Ship Construction and Repair Workers Trade Union, or Limter-İş, Chairman Cem Dinç claimed workers were used as test dummies.
�The lifeboat was tested for weight and workers crowded onto it. The boat turned on its head and some workers fell into the water. The rope tying to boat to the ship snapped, falling on to the workers. Workers crushed each other and drowned when the boat started taking on water,� he said.
There were also protests by a group of workers in front of the shipyard after the accidents. One worker, Aykut Özdemir, speaking to CNN-Türk, said, �Our friends are dying and authorities are just silent. I had worked together with one of the dead workers that day.�
Police stopped some protesters who tried to enter the shipyard.
Süleyman Çelebi, head of the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers' Unions, or DİSK, said yesterday the deaths would not stop until comprehensive safety standards were implemented. He said in a statement their proposals were ignored by the authorities.
�Our efforts to end work-related deaths have been constantly ignored,� Çelebi said. �The government, instead of taking measures, is blaming the Limter-İş union and the workers themselves,� he said.
The failure to create a sector-wide supervisory board formed of academics and representatives of relevant parties also played a part in the continuing deaths, said Çelebi, adding those who work in shipyards should benefit from the advantages provided to those working in dangerous environments, including more breaks and a 7.5-hour workday.
The Maritime Undersecretariat said yesterday it would be forming a commission to investigate the technical side of the accident Monday. The commission will prepare a report.