Do not know if the fatal Siddique Bazar building followed construction code: RAJUK director

Locals said the building was 40 years old, but the owners were nowhere to be found

Published : 8 March 2023, 11:55 AM
Updated : 8 March 2023, 11:55 AM

A director of the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha, the capital development authority, could not confirm whether the Café Queen building in Old Dhaka’s Siddique Bazar was constructed according to government rules after a devastating blast in the building left 19 people dead.

While visiting the blast site on Wednesday, RAJUK Director Hamidur Rahman said he would have more access to information once his office reopens after the Shab-e-Barat holidays.

A local, who asked not to be named, said the building was constructed four decades ago. It was initially three floors tall and was later expanded by four more storeys. The one who led the construction of the building died a decade ago and his sons own it now, he said.

The building housed sanitary stores and warehouses on the two lower floors and basement, with the shuttered Café Queen restaurant on the third floor. Though the restaurant has been closed for several years, locals still refer to the building by the name of the restaurant.

The higher floors were all residential flats, some rented and others owned. But none of the residents could be found after the explosion.

A massive explosion ripped through the seven-storey building on North South Road late on Tuesday afternoon. In addition to the employees at different stores inside the building, pedestrians and vehicles were also caught in the blast.

The roofs of the bottom two floors collapsed down to the basement of the building, trapping many who were later rescued. At least one man is still missing. Relatives were waiting in front of the building awaiting word from rescue workers.

After the rescue workers halted their efforts on Tuesday night after the building was deemed “risky”, the authorities waited for suggestions from RAJUK and the army before initiating work on Wednesday.

Hamidur said: “I can't say whether the building is legal or illegal, or when its construction was approved, at the moment. We will know after we take a look at the documents.”

The Café Queen building is only two feet apart from the one on its north end. There is virtually no gap with the building on the south.

The blast badly damaged Salu Enterprise on the northern side of the building's lowest floor and Badshah Trading Centre on the south.

The third floor of the building housed another shop, Sujuti Enterprise, while the families of the building’s owner resided on the fourth and fifth floors. Tenants lived on the fifth and sixth floors.

A local said the owner of the building was Rezaur Rahman, who has three sons. One of them lives overseas. But no one has been able to confirm the names of the brothers living in the building and they were nowhere to be found.

Another local said the restaurant’s kitchen was located in the basement, but after the brothers decided to discontinue Café Queen, shops were established there.


Director Salim Mia of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company said gas build up in the pipeline did not cause the blast.

“A riser was found below [the building], and it was intact. So something else might’ve triggered the explosion.”

Major Mashiur Rahman, deputy director of the RAB’s bomb disposal unit, said: “We entered the building with caution. But this was not caused by fire, it was an explosion.”

“It might’ve been caused by gas line leakage. But it was a huge blast.”

On whether an air conditioner was responsible for the incident, he said “Unlikely.”

“We’re trying to arrive at a conclusion. We’ve collected samples and sent them to the lab. We’ll get the details after conducting tests.”

The dog squad was helping to find anyone still trapped in the rubble.