Death toll rises to 24 after Bangladesh mosque explosion
Bangladesh officials have disclosed that death toll from a gas explosion that struck through a mosque has risen to 24.
Rescuers said on Sunday 6 September, 2020, that survivors jumped into a nearby open sewer to escape the flames.
Worshippers were at Friday evening prayers when the blast ignited fire through the mosque in the central district of Narayanganj near the capital Dhaka, emergency services told reporters.
“With the previous 16 deaths confirmed, eight more people died overnight taking the toll to 24,” spokesman for a specialist burns hospital in Dhaka, Samanta Lal Send said.
The recent deaths included the mosque’s muezzin and imam, who led prayers.
“Conditions of 13 injured people got critical, as bodies of some of the injured were 70-80 percent burnt, while the toll could climb higher.
“It is tough to survive if anyone has more than 30 percent of his body burnt,” Send said.
Police report said forty-five people in total were injured.
Mohammad Salim, a relative of 3 deceased victims of the explosion said he rushed to the mosque after the explosion because the blast’s shock waves shook the neighborhood.
Salim said burnt worshippers threw themselves into an open sewer next to the mosque.
“They wailed ‘save, save us’ as they rolled in the sewer water to cool their burnt bodies. Their faces were charred and were beyond recognition,” Salim narrated his experience.
“I lifted three of them out of water. As I touched them, their skin peeled out from their bodies. We took them to a hospital on rickshaws.”
There has been growing anger over the incident after the committee running the mosque alleged the state-run gas transmission firm had earlier demanded a bribe to fix the leaks immediately.
“A probe body is looking into how the explosion occurred and whether there was any negligence on our part,” the company’s managing director Ali Mohammad Al Mamun said.
Investigators suspected a spark from an air conditioner — which came on after a power cut — started the blaze.
The committee’s president Abdul Gafur said the mosque started experiencing problems with the gas pipes a few days earlier.
Local fire chief Abdullah al Arefin, who is part of the team investigating the explosion, said the committee stated they had smelt gas for the past seven days, but they did not have any idea that this could lead to such a big fire.
A spokesman for his ministry, Mir Aslam, said Bangladesh’s energy minister Nasrul Hamid visited the scene and has ordered a probe into the committee’s allegations.
In Bangladesh, safety regulations are usually disregarded, leading to the deaths of hundreds each year from fires in the nation of 168 million people.