At least 21 people were killed and dozens injured as a result of a gas line explosion in the Baitus Salah Jame mosque, in the city of Narayanganj, Bangladesh. The blast occurred on Friday evening when worshippers had gathered to offer their evening prayers. Dozens were rushed to a state-run specialised burns hospital nearby in Dhaka, where many people including a 7-year old child, succumbed to their sustained burns and injuries.
The fire was initially suspected to be caused by an air conditioner exploding inside the mosque. Abdullah Al Arefin, deputy assistant director of the Narayanganj Fire Service spoke to the Dhaka Tribune and told them that the gas had leaked from pipes under the mosque and accumulated inside, which ignited “due to sparks” when someone tried to switch on or off air conditioners or fans inside. The windows of the mosque were closed, which caused the gas to accumulate inside. The blast’s impact led to the other six air conditioners to explode as well. Mohammed Ratan, a local resident told the paper that he heard a loud bang after which he saw people “rolling on the street as they tried to put out the flames on their bodies.”
Over 35 people are being treated for critical burns and injuries at the Sheikh Hasina Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery in the capital city of Dhaka. Samanta Lal Sen, the coordinator of the burn unit said that the death toll could rise further, as many of the patients being treated had burns on up to 90 per cent of their bodies.
Safety regulations are often disregarded in construction in Bangladesh, where hundreds are killed in fires like these each year.