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Blast kills five, hurts seven in ship-breaking yard in India

NEW DELHI--A blast triggered by a suspected gas leak in a ship being dismantled in western India killed five workers and injured another seven on Saturday, police said.

The explosion occurred in a chemical tank while the workers were dismantling the old vessel at the Alang ship-breaking yard in Gujarat state, said police officer Ramesh Budhrejiya.

The blast was believed to have been caused by a sudden gas leakage which also started a fire, the Press Trust of India quoted police officer K. J. Rathod as saying.

The ship-breaking yard is nearly 1,100 kilometers (685 miles) west of New Delhi.

Two weeks ago, six people were killed and 29 more injured in an explosion and a subsequent gas pipeline leak at a government-run steel plant in central India. Media reports said that methane and carbon monoxide had leaked from a pipeline due to damage in a water pump.

India has one of the world's largest industries for breaking down old ships and oil tankers, but like most countries it does not accept ships with toxic materials.

However, lax law enforcement mean ships with toxic materials are accepted for dismantling by unscrupulous contractors and tens of thousands of laborers, working with bare hands or minimal protection, are exposed to deadly hazardous substances.

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