People flung onto the street: witnesses recount devastating Old Dhaka building blast

“People in a bloodied state were lying on the street. Some were crying, some motionless,” says a witness

Published : 7 March 2023, 04:15 PM
Updated : 7 March 2023, 04:15 PM

It was just another day with added fervour of Shab-e-Barat in the crowded Siddique Bazar area of Old Dhaka, with the streets filled with traffic amid a rush of home-goers after office hours. A blast with a loud bang changed the familiar scene, covering the area with smoke.

Once the immediate shock passed, Anwar Hossain, an Uber driver, watched in disbelief a man clad in panjabi and pyjamas on the roof of his car with blood dripping from his head.

A panicked Anwar drove the car forward and pulled over. “The entire area was rocked. I thought a building collapsed.”

Noor Mohammad, a baker, said many travellers came to the nearby bus counters to return home on the Shab-e-Barat holiday. People crowded the bakery to buy special loaves of bread he baked on the occasion.

“People were flung onto the street from the building as the blast rocked the area. Bus drivers, rickshaw-pullers and passengers were also injured,” he said.

At least 16 people were killed and 100 others injured in the explosion that caused parts of a building to collapse.

Many were trapped under the debris, and the basement of the building as the first three floors caved in.

Md Mejbah, a worker of BRB Cables, was on his way to a mosque for Asr prayers. “People in a bloodied state were lying on the street. Some were crying, some motionless,” he said.

“Injured drivers and passengers of buses, cars and rickshaws were leaving the vehicles. Many were bleeding. Some had their clothes torn off.”

Mohammad Bijoy, a local shop worker, was saying Asr prayers at the time of the explosion. “I first thought it was a bomb blast. The entire area was covered with smoke for several minutes. Later I saw people were taking the injured away.”

Anwar Hossain, a worker of sanitary product shop Badshah Trading on the ground floor of the building, left the shop to bring tea for the manager.

Anwar lost consciousness as the explosion struck. When he regained consciousness, he said people were taking away the injured workers in front of the shop.

He did not know what had happened to the people inside.

Dilip Das, a vendor who was selling fruits on the street, said he saw ripped utility lines falling on pedestrians after the blast.