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Dockworkers Protest After Shipyard Explosion

Outraged workers tried to storm the Greek Merchant Marine Ministry after an explosion and fire at a shipyard near Athens killed eight people and injured four.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Riot police fired tear gas to disperse outraged dockworkers trying to storm the Greek Merchant Marine Ministry Friday, after an explosion and fire at a shipyard near Athens killed eight people and injured four.

Greek labor unions and opposition parties accused the government of ignoring repeated warnings of poor safety standards at Perama dockyards, 12 miles (20 kilometers) west of Athens.

The ministry said rescue workers at Perama found the last three bodies early Friday inside the ship where the blast occurred on Thursday. No more workers were missing, it said, adding that one of the dead was from the Philippines.

Two of the four injured workers remained hospitalized for treatment of smoke inhalation, authorities said.

Hundreds of dockworkers marched to the ministry in Piraeus, Greece's main port, to protest the deaths and safety conditions at Perama.

Riot police fired tear gas to disperse groups of workers throwing rocks and ripping down a metal fence outside the ministry building, while the protesters damaged several ministry vehicles, police said.

The dockworkers called a three-day strike to protest one of the worst accidents to have hit their industry in Greece in recent years.

Two members of the repair crew have been arrested on suspicion of not maintaining safety standards, the ministry said.

In July, after two people were killed while repairing a ship at Perama, workers held a 24-hour strike.

"This tragic accident, once again confirms the lack of proper measures to safeguard (dockyard) workers," the main opposition Socialist Party said Friday.

The government said it increased safety measures since 2006, when it introduced daily inspections at Perama.

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