Another deadly explosion has rocked a commercial building on a busy street in the capital’s Siddique Bazar area, killing at least 20 people and injuring over 100 others.
The first two floors of the five-storey building collapsed on the basement following the blast that took place on Tuesday afternoon.
The blast took place just two days after an explosion razed a building in Science Lab area of the city on February 5 followed by another one at an oxygen plant in Chattogram on February 4.
The latest explosion left 18 people dead on the spot. Rescuers retrieved two more bodies from under the rubble on Wednesday.
The deceased were identified as Momin Uddin Sumon, 44, Robin Hossain, 20, Mohammad Sumon, 21, Ishak Mridha, 35, Mansur Hossain, 40, Mohammad Ismail, 42, Al Amin, 23, Rahat Hossain, 18, Mominul Islam, 38, Nadi Begum, 36, Mainuddin, 50, Nazmul Hossain, 25, Obaidul Hasan Babul, 55, Abu Jafar Siddique, 34, Akuti Begum, 70, Idris Mia, 60, Nurul Islam
Bhuiyan, 55, Mohammad Hridoy, 20, Mohammad Samrat, 20, and Mohammad Siam, 20.
Of them, the bodies of the former two were recovered from under the debris on Wednesday.
An investigation committee was formed to look into the incident.
The explosion also severely damaged its adjoining seven-storey building and caused slight damage to some other buildings.
Meanwhile, the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) detained the owner of the building where the blast happened and some others for interrogation.
Harun-Or-Rashid, DMP additional commissioner (DB), said they first took owner of Bangladesh Sanitary shop Abdul Motaleb Mintu and building owner Wahidur Rahman into their custody for interrogation.
The departments concerned, including Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD), police and Bangladesh Army, did not come to a conclusion about the reason behind the explosion though they through their preliminary investigation and inquiry suspected accumulated natural or methane gas caused the blast.
To dig out the fact, the FSCD formed a four-member committee with its Director (Operations and Maintenance) Lt Col Tajul Islam Chowdhury as the head. The committee was asked to submit its findings within five working days.
Visiting the spot on Wednesday, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the government directed the authorities concerned to properly investigate the incident to dig out the reason behind the blast.
He said they will make the probe report public.
The minister also said the building turned risky as its ground floor was badly damaged and it might collapse if pressure was put on it.
DMP Commissioner Khandker Golam Faruq said they found no evidence of sabotage regarding the blast.
“Experts from different agencies, including Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit, Criminal Investigation Department and Army, worked there and said they didn’t find any evidence of explosives at the site,” he said.
“We’re investigating to unearth the reason behind the blast,” the DMP chief said.
CTTC’s Bomb Disposal Unit said the accumulated gas might have been behind the explosion, identifying five possible reasons for the gas accumulation.
Gas might emit from underground water tank of the building, it may come from a septic tank between the two buildings, gas might be amassed from a disconnected line or methane gas might be accumulated on the wall of the building, gas might gather from a leakage in sewerage pipeline and gas might be accumulated anyhow from the big generator of the building, it said.
Major Mashiur Rahman, chief of the Bomb Disposal Unit at Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), said they collected samples from the explosion site and sent those to the laboratory for test.
He suspected that the incident might have happened from gas pipeline leakage or from other explosives.
A Bomb Disposal Unit of Bangladesh Army visited the spot on Tuesday night. After examination, it said they found no evidence of explosive substances, suspecting accumulated gas might have caused the blast.
But Salim Miah, director (operations) of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited, said they did not find any evidence of gaseous explosion at the site of the blast.
“The gas riser of the building remained intact. The evidence we’ve collected using a gas detector also doesn’t indicate that the explosion was caused by gas,” he said.
Riazul Haque, deputy director of Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), said they collected some water from the building where the blast occurred for test at their laboratory. “We’ll test the water to find out whether there’s any gas in the water,” he said.
Dr Samanta Lal Sen, chief coordinator of Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery, told reporters that 10 of the victims who were undergoing treatment there were not out of danger.
“Two of them are receiving treatment at ICU. Their condition is more critical. The rest are also not out of danger. Most of their bodies have been burnt,” he said.
In total, the institute is providing treatment for 11 injured. They are Md Hassan, 32, Yasin, 26, Md Musa, 45, Khalil, 50, Ajam, 36, Oli Shikder, 55, Bablu, 25, Al Amin, 25, Bachchu Mia, 55, Jahan, 25, and Mostafa, 50.
Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) said they received about 100 injured. Most of them returned home after receiving primary treatment. Now, about 20 are undergoing treatment there.
Mehedi Hasan, manager of a sanitary shop at the building, remained missing after the incident, said his nephew Nadimul Islam.
“We searched for our uncle at the site, Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery, DMCH and Mitford Hospital, but didn’t find him. There were five employees at the shop. Four were found. Only my uncle remained missing,” he said.
On February 5, three people died and at least 40 others were injured in an explosion that took place at a building in Science Lab area of the capital.
Some parts of the building collapsed due to the explosion, fire and police officials said.
On February 4, a deadly fire following an explosion killed at least seven people and injured 30 others at Sheema Oxygen Plant in Sitakunda of Chattogram.