Police: Gas Leak Likely Caused Deadly Blast in Dhaka

Pulack Ghatack
Dhaka
2021-06-28
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Police: Gas Leak Likely Caused Deadly Blast in Dhaka Police investigators inspect the site of a suspected gas explosion in central Dhaka, the morning after the incident that killed seven and injured scores, June 28, 2021.
BenarNews

Police in Bangladesh say a gas leak may have caused a major explosion in a busy neighborhood in Dhaka late Sunday, killing at least seven people and injuring scores more.

The blast at around 7:30 p.m. caused the partial collapse of a three-story commercial building where the explosion happened, and shattered the windows of neighboring buildings and damaged buses passing by.

Inspector General of Police Benazir Ahmed said methane gas might have caused the blast.

“When gas cylinders are not properly maintained, they can turn into explosives,” he said after visiting the scene of the explosion. “We will work with the Fire Service to find out the reason behind this incident.”

No conclusion can be drawn before a full probe is complete, Benazir said, adding however that the blast scene did not look like a bombing.

“The very building where the blast occurred has collapsed partially but irreparably. It may totally break down any time,” Debashish Bardhan, deputy director for Dhaka of the Fire Service and Civil Defense, told BenarNews.

A reporter at the scene saw two damaged buses outside the blast site, where mangled beams and broken concrete testified to the strength of the explosion.

“It’s horrific. I never heard this kind of terrible boom in my life,” Siddiq Mondol, a tailor in a shopping center adjacent to the doomed building, told BenarNews.  

“Seven people have died, so far. We also have information about at least 50 people being injured in the incident,” the chief of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, Shafiqul Islam, told reporters.

Local residents said the toll of injured was likely higher. A shopkeeper at a nearby store said more than 200 injured people were rushed to local hospitals.

“We have treated more than a hundred injured people,” Momena Abedin, a nurse at the nearby Dhaka Community Hospital, told BenarNews.

Seriously injured people were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery, according to police and firemen at the scene.

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A man looks at the back of the partially collapsed building in central Dhaka where a blast the night before killed at least seven people and injured scores more, June 28, 2021. (BenarNews)

Bombing ruled out

Shafiqul Islam, the city police chief, ruled out the possibility of a bombing. “Splinters would have been scattered at the scene had it been a bomb blast,” he said.

“The explosion caused destruction in a single direction. In the case of bombings, it normally causes destruction in at least three to four directions,” Benazir, the police chief, said as he explained why he did not think that a bomb caused the explosion.

The government’s chief explosives inspector, meanwhile, noted that hydrocarbons, a component of natural gas, were found on the ground floor of the building.

“However, the occurrence of such a large explosion from gas alone is unusual,” Abul Kalam Azad said.

“We inspected the spot soon after the explosion and again today. There was a café. The building has gas lines and cylinder gas. There were air conditioners also,” he said.

Harunur Rashid, the 65-year-old caretaker of the building where the blast took place, was still missing on Monday, his daughter said.

“We have been searching for him since last night. I have visited five to seven hospitals, but I didn’t find him. His phone is also switched off,” a distraught Hena Begum told BenarNews.

A man told reporters at Dhaka Medical College Hospital that his 23-year-old wife and 9-month-old baby were killed, and his 12-year-old brother was being treated for injuries. He said the blast went off as the four were eating at Shawarma House, an eatery on the ground floor of the doomed building.

According to hospital sources, three people died at the Burn Institute on Sunday, but their identities were not immediately known.

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