A three-floor building near the Science Lab crossing on Mirpur Road has partially collapsed after an explosion, leaving at least three people dead and 30 others injured.
Fire service official Jiban Mia said the explosion occurred in the building around 10:52 am on Sunday. The building caught fire immediately after the explosion.
Four units of the Fire Service and Civil Defence from Palashi, Dhanmondi and Siddiquebazar were deployed to the site to tame the blaze.
The wall on one side of the building collapsed in the blast, said fire service official Shahjahan Molla.
The injured were taken to the nearby Popular Medical College and Hospital, where three people were declared dead, said Mosaddek Hossain, general manager of the hospital.
The dead were the employees of Laira Products housed in the damaged building, said Deputy Commissioner Md Shahidullah of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
They were Shafiquzzaman, 45, of Shariatpur, Abdul Mannan from Dhaka’s Lalbagh and Tushar, 35, from Narshingdi.
“Shafiquzzaman and Tushar worked as computer operators. Abdul Mannan was a member of the support staff. Laira’s Area Manager Shahinur Rahman told us that families of the victims were contacted,” the officer said.
Fourteen injured people were admitted to Dhaka Medical Hospital and the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery, according to Inspector Bacchu Mia of DMCH Police Outpost. One of them was later shifted to the intensive care unit.
“We believe that an AC on the third floor exploded. The police bomb disposal team is working at the scene,” said Additional Police Commissioner Shahen Shah.
The Phoenix Insurance Limited office is situated on the third floor of the building. Chairs, door shutters and furniture in that office fell on the street as the disaster struck the building.
The damaged building also houses clothing stores, a salon and a laundromat.
Shamsul Haque, an engineer, said the blast destroyed the glass door of his office, 400 metres from the scene.
Popular Medical College Hospital, which is adjacent to the blast site, shook heavily from the impact of the explosion, said Rezaul Karim, the hospital’s HR and administration manager.
Then the injured began to stream in, he said. As many as 50 people gathered at the emergency department of the hospital. Some of them had burn injuries, while some had cuts and bruises.
“We were overwhelmed by the sudden incident. The emergency department was full of screams and cries. The doctors and nurses did their best to serve the injured. Two people died before they were brought to the hospital. One died just after reaching the emergency department.”
Currently, two victims are admitted to the Popular hospital, while some were shifted to other hospitals. Some of the injured went home after receiving first aid, Rezaul said.
FIRE SERVICE, POLICE DIFFER ON CAUSE OF BLAST
The fire service and the police gave different views about the cause of the explosion.
There was no sign of gas and the pieces of evidence were suspicious, which is why the bomb disposal unit was called in, said Lt Col Mohammad Tajul Islam Chowdhury, a director at the fire service.
“The fire was insignificant. It lasted very briefly and was brought under control almost immediately after it broke out. The blast was the important thing,” he said.
The fire service was yet to open a formal investigation into the incident until 5 pm.
AHM Kamruzzaman, a joint commissioner at police’s Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit, however, believes gas accumulated in the building caused the blast.
“Initially, nothing that indicates sabotage was found at the site,” he said. “We’re still investigating the incident.”
After inspecting the scene in the afternoon, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Khandaker Golam Faruq said it appeared to be an accident. “The bomb disposal unit is working on it.”
He said more time was needed to find out what caused the blast, adding the police did not find splinter or something similar at the scene.
Additional commissioners Khandaker Mohiuddin and Shahen Shah said they suspect an air-conditioner in the building exploded, causing parts of the structure to collapse.