Monday, 20 March, 2023

Sitakunda oxygen plant fire: Rescue operation underway for second day

Firefighting teams have started a rescue operation for the second day at Seema Oxygen Limited in Sitakunda, where a massive fire broke out on Saturday following an explosion that killed six people and injured dozens.

The rescue team has been searching through debris at the blast site since morning. However, no bodies were found at the time of filing this report, according to information provided by the Agrabad control room.

Two more rescue teams from Agrabad and Kumira fire stations have joined the rescue effort.

The explosion at Seema Oxygen Plant in the Keshabpur area rocked nearby neighbourhoods yesterday. Due to the shockwave caused by the explosion, dozens of buildings, including homes, offices, businesses, and mosques in the adjacent areas, have developed cracks, according to witnesses.

Kabir Hossain, a resident of Keshabpur area, said tin and iron pieces were scattered after the explosion. Many nearby buildings have developed cracks. Windows of some of the houses were shattered due to the shockwaves.

“The situation after the explosion was devastating,” Kabir told UNB.

Yasin, a worker from the oxygen plant who was outside the factory at the time of the incident, said, “I came out of the factory to have tea, just 10 minutes before the explosion.”

“I narrowly survived. After the explosion, at least one square km area around the factory was shaken. Pieces of metal flew up to about half a km away,” he said.

Abdul Motaleb, 55, was among the injured in the blast. He suffered a head injury and is currently undergoing treatment at Chittagong Medical College Hospital.

“We used to produce oxygen in this factory. After that, we used to fill cylinders weighing 80 kg with the oxygen. I think the explosion was caused by excessive pressure on the cylinder,” Motaleb said while talking to UNB.

“This has never happened before at the plant,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chattogram Civil Surgeon Ilias Chowdhury said the process of handing over the bodies of the deceased to their relatives is underway. Tk 50,000 has been given to each family of the deceased.

Thirty people are now receiving treatment at CMCH. They were initially given Tk 7,000 each.

The authorities have announced Tk 200,000 in monetary aid to each family of the deceased.

Following the blast at Seema Oxygen Plant around 4 pm yesterday, 9 firefighting units rushed to the spot and managed to douse the flames at 6:30 pm.

Later, joint rescue efforts by the fire service, the navy, and police were launched. The rescue team recovered six bodies from the rubble.

A 7-member probe committee has been formed by the Chattogram district administration to investigate the fire.