By Sumi Khan
Twenty one people were killed and around 50 were injured after six air conditioners exploded during prayers in a mosque in Bangladesh’s Fatullah town, resident medical officer of Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery Dr Partha Shankar Pal said.
According to locals, the explosions took place at around 8.45 p.m. on Friday at Baitus Salam Mosque in Fatullah just after devotees had finished their prayers.
Sources said that sparking led to one of the A/Cs exploding which then triggered blasts in the other air conditioners of the mosque.
27 victims are in a critical condition, doctors said, adding that some of them including the mosque’s ‘Imam’ suffered 99 per cent burn injuries.
Fire service officials and gas workers are working on the site to repair a faulty gas line which caused the mishap.
Abdul Gafur Member, President of the mosque committee accused the local staff of Titas Gas Transmission & Distribution Company Limited (TGTDCL), of demanding 50,000 taka bribe to resolve a gas leakage under the mosque building.
Bangladesh State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said, “Stern action will be taken, if negligence of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company (TGTDCL) is found in connection with the Narayanganj mosque blast.”
A five-member probe committee has been formed to investigate the blast.
Locals said a gas pipeline passes beneath the mosque. The mosque managing committee had recently filed a complaint over leakage of the pipeline. But the authorities apparently ignored it. It is alleged that gas had leaked from the pipeline and accumulated inside as the windows were closed.
The explosion was probably triggered due to sparking, said fire service officials. They suspect accumulated gas from the leaked pipeline caused a fire that could have triggered the blasts.
Firefighters were rushed to the spot and the injured were taken to hospital.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed best possible treatment to the injured.