Oxygen plant official clueless about the cause of the deadly blast that killed 6

The blast, which occurred on Saturday, left the area in ruins

Chattogram Bureaubdnews24.com
Published : 5 March 2023, 11:36 AM
Updated : 5 March 2023, 11:36 AM

Sheema Group Manager Abdul Alim has said all safety-related systems were “updated” at the company’s oxygen plant in Chattogram and he was clueless about what caused the deadly blast that killed six people and injured 20 others.

Alim arrived at the blast site in Sitakunda around 12 pm on Sunday, 20 hours after the explosion. “We have no idea about how the disaster occurred. We’ll be able to confirm after the investigation,” he said.

“The company is providing full support to the victims. The administration is doing the same and we will coordinate with them to do all that is needed.”

Md Sanaullah, a supervisor of Sheema Group, said the company owns two oxygen firms as its subsidiaries. Of these, Oxi Oxygen runs three plants, while Sheema Oxygen Oxico operates two. Oxi Oxygen has three other plants which are shut and Saturday’s blast devastated two of Sheema Oxygen’s plants.

The factories had fewer workers due to less oxygen production due to lean business in the shipbreaking industry, he said.

“The plant was shut on Friday and resumed operations the next day. Six people were on duty to work the afternoon shift, but three of them left the plant for prayers before the blast,” Sanaullah said.

Sheema Group sells oxy-acetylene from the plant mainly to the shipbreaking yards and steel mills in Sitakunda.

The Sheema Oxygen plant is located at Sonaichhari’s Kadam Rasul area adjacent to the Dhaka-Chattogram highway. The plant was constructed in a populated area with 8-10 steel mills and oil refineries on either side of the street.

The blast, which occurred around 4:30 pm on Saturday, left the area in ruins and damaged factories and homes nearby. The plant was reduced to rubble with the metal fences left twisted by the blast.

The fiery explosion flung metal debris as far as 500 yards and killed a man, while rescuers pulled out the bodies of five other victims from the debris.

Rescue efforts continued on Sunday but factory authorities were yet to be seen.

Hamid Mia, deputy assistant director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, said: “Last year the blast at Chattogram’s BM Depot happened after a fire broke out. Initially, we believe that a fire started here after the blast.”

Tofazzal Hossain, an explosives inspector in Chattogram, said, “The reason behind the explosion is not yet clear. Details will be disclosed after a meeting at the deputy commissioner’s office.”