Asia's ship graveyards
When big ocean freighters are taken out of commission, they usually end up in Asian scrap yards. In 2014, 60 percent of all decommissioned ships were dismantled on the coasts of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Final resting place
The average life span of an ocean liner is around 30 years. After that, it's off to the junkyard. The NGO "Shipbreaking Platform" estimates that 1,026 ships were recycled worldwide last year - 641 of which were taken apart on the coasts of Asia.
The largest ship recycling facility in the world is located along the Indian coast in a town called Alang, in the western state of Gujarat. Workers dismantle container ships and passenger tankers along a 10-kilometer stretch of beach.
Some 35,000 people work at the shipyard in Alang, India, most of whom are migrants or unskilled day laborers. At low tide, the old ships are driven as close to shore as possible before being dragged onto land by men with ropes.
Unlike in Europe and the United States, where machines do most of the dirty work, Asian shipyards often lack power tools. Workers there generally use little more than blow torches and hammers to scrap a ship. Accidents are not uncommon.
Inadequate protective measures
No safety goggles, no steel-toed boots - scrapyard workers in Asia put their health at risk every day. The nearest hospital in Alang, India, is 50 kilometers away. A modest first-aid station from the Red Cross can only provide sparse medical care.
Damage to the environment - and people
Before the yards at Alang, India, were put into operation, the coastal town enjoyed clean, beautiful beaches. Now lax regulations concerning the handling of heavy metals have left the beaches contaminated with asbestos and oil. Time and again, workers fall victim to poisoning from the gases that escape.
This worker in Alang, India, is sorting old ship machinery parts. Ship owners earn more money from selling their vessals to scrapyards in Asia than anywhere else. While a ton of steel will fetch around $150 in Europe, in China it's worth $300 and in India $500.
A new EU regulatory push
When the EU finishes its planned list of all the yards where European ships are allowed to be dismantled, this one in Ghent, Belgium will be among them. Yards in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, on the other hand, won't make the list. But there may be a loophole. Shipowners that fly non-European flags are not restricted from sending their old boats to Asia's most cost-effective scrapyards.