Victims tell of horrifying experiences during and after the Chattogram oxygen plant blast

Chattogram Medical College Hospital authorities said most of the injured were in considerably stable condition

Published : 5 March 2023, 01:25 PM
Updated : 5 March 2023, 01:25 PM

Md Forkan, an office aide at Sheema Group’s oxygen plant in Chattogram’s Sitakunda, had lost his cognitive senses for a brief period right after he heard a massive explosion nearby on Saturday. 

He could not remember what went down in those brief periods when he was standing outside his office’s prayer room in the afternoon. 

As soon as his senses came back, the 35-year-old man discovered blood was pouring out from his head and some parts of his torso after being hit by shattered glasses from a broken window nearby. 

Forkan was among the 19 people who had been moved to Chattogram Medical College Hospital, or CMCH, for treatment following a deadly explosion in the plant, which killed six people and injured 24 in total and counting. 

CMCH Director Brig Gen Shamim Ahsan confirmed on Sunday afternoon that the rest were in considerably stable condition except for one injured. 

“We have moved two injured to the intensive care unit. One of them is in critical condition. Others are in a considerably stable condition. 

“We performed emergency surgeries on three patients yesterday and are currently performing surgeries on two others. 

“One of them sustained injuries in his eye, and we will transfer him to Dhaka for specialised treatment. We can take care of the rest,” he said. 

“Most of the injured came with serious bruises. The level of trauma of the injured is deeper compared to the victims of the BM Depot incident [which took place last year], as most of the wounds were caused by flying metallic objects. 

“On a superficial level, the injuries are looking quite dangerous. We have been doing our best since yesterday [Saturday] to provide maximum care.”


  • Sheema Oxygen Plant, which produced oxygen for industrial use, is located in the Kadam Rasul area of Sonaichhari near the Dhaka-Chattogam Highway. Officials said the massive explosion rocked the area around 4:30pm on Saturday.

  • The explosion was so intense that it flung heavy metal debris as far as 500 yards, killing a man sitting in a firewood and charcoal shop. Rescuers pulled out the bodies of five other victims from the factory.

  • The oxygen plant was located in a crowded area with eight to 10 steel mills, oil refineries, other factories, and houses on both sides of a narrow road.

  • The blast completely damaged the oxygen plant and heavily damaged nearby buildings. The factories closed after the explosion.

  • Fire service called off the rescue operation on Sunday evening.

  • Sheema Group used the gas from the plant in its steel mill – Sheema Auto Re-rolling Mills Ltd, with the brand name SARM.

Some of the injured people undergoing treatment at this hospital could not confirm how and where the explosion occurred in the plant, except for what they witnessed afterwards. 

One of them was Narayan Dhar, the plant’s maintenance in-charge. 

“I finished my tasks earlier yesterday. After that, I decided to visit a workshop inside the plant before heading home. 

“Suddenly I heard a massive explosion, the tin-covered roof collapsed on me, and I felt a metallic object hit my shoulder as well. I lost consciousness and regained it back at the hospital,” he said. 

According to his estimation, the 60-year-old man from the district’s Banshkhali Upazila said at least eight men were working inside the main plant, and 50 others were working in and around the factory. 

“However, I can’t confirm the origin of the blast,” he said. 

Md Zahed, an assistant electrician at the factory, said he was working at the factory’s store room when the explosion rocked the plant. 

Flying shattered glasses injured the 32-year-old Noakhaliman’s head, torso and hand. 

“What I felt was the explosion took place inside the plant. Not sure in which part exactly,” he said. 

Abdul Motaleb, a 24-year veteran staff at the production unit of the oxygen plant, had severe injuries on his head and hip. 

“At least ten men were working inside the plant when the explosion occurred. I somehow managed to crawl out from the plant site, felt blood pouring out from my head, and saw a massive fire,” the 45-year-old man said.