Story highlights

Unused oil tanker explodes as workers dismantle it

Gadani is one of the largest ship breaking yards in the world

Quetta, Pakistan CNN  — 

At least 17 people were killed and dozens were wounded in a series of explosions Tuesday at a ship breaking yard in southwest Pakistan, officials said.

The blasts happened at the Gadani yard in Balochistan Province, Deputy Commissioner Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah told CNN.

Several workers are missing, according to police officer Rehmatullah Chutta.

The explosions occurred when more than 200 employees were working on an unused oil tanker, Chutta told CNN. Shah said more than 40 people were injured in the blasts, which rocked the town of Gadani, about 30 miles northwest of Karachi.

Video from the scene showed thick dark clouds of smoke rising from the ship breaking yard.

A medical officer based at Balochistan’s Gadani Hospital told CNN that six bodies were brought to the hospital.

“The victims are severely burned,” Muhammad Younas Baloch said. The hospital went into emergency operations mode to take in and treat the injured, he added.

Shortly after the incident, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif released a statement expressing “deep grief and sorrow over the loss of valuable lives in the explosions.”

The Gadani ship breaking yard is one of the largest in the world, running along 10 kilometers (6 miles) of the coast.

Journalist Ali Shah reported from Quetta, with CNN’s Chandrika Narayan writing in Atlanta. CNN’s Sophia Saifi contributed to this report.