A massive explosion inside building in a busy neighborhood in Bangladesh’s capital has killed at least 18 people and injured dozens, officials said Tuesday, after two other similar fatal explosions in the country recently.
The combined death toll from the three explosions now stands at 28.
The sudden explosion inside a building in Dhaka’s Siddik Bazar area on Tuesday evening rocked the neighborhood amid traffic congestion next to the roadside semi-commercial seven-story structure, police said.
“At least 140 (people) are admitted in the Dhaka Medical College Hospital emergency,” Inspector Bacchu Mia, in charge of the hospital police post, told VOA, referring to the state-owned hospital’s figure alone.
Fire service duty officer Rashid Khaled said 11 fire units and scores of ambulances immediately rushed to the scene to get to people trapped underneath debris on the road. Bricks, mortars, shattered glass, and assorted items including furniture and electronic goods were scattered all over the road.
Search and rescue operations were suspended for the evening and were set to resume in the morning after army engineers take a closer look at the scene, Dhaka fire service chief Dinmoni Sharma told reporters.
Dhaka police chief Golam Faruq visited the injured victims at the hospital and later told reporters special units were working at the site to find the cause of the deadly blast.
‘Like an earthquake’
Rickshaw puller Rafiqul Islam, who witnessed the explosion from a distance on the other side of the road, and who took an injured person to the hospital, told VOA about how the “second-long” explosion rocked the entire neighborhood.
“I was taking a break from work and resting on my rickshaw when I felt like an earthquake happened with a huge noise. Moments within I saw a large cloud of dirt and I rushed to the spot,” he told VOA.
A Dhaka Medical College Hospital emergency doctor said the number of casualties may rise as many critical patients are taken into the hospital.
All doctors in the hospital were called in to handle the situation, hospital director Nazmul Haque said.
Firefighters and police bomb disposal units were working in the Cafe Queen Bhaban, the affected structure, which accommodated a few floors of mostly sanitary and plumbing equipment and residential units on the top floors, to find out the cause of the explosion.
A private bank in the neighboring building was also badly damaged.
On Sunday, a similar explosion in a Dhaka clothing market killed three people and injured many others. Authorities said they could not yet find the reason behind the accident, but the fire service was investigating the possibility of a gas leakage.
Last Saturday, in the industrial town of Sitakunda, a deadly explosion at an oxygen plant killed seven people and injured at least 25 others.
In 2022, a huge explosion in a Sitakunda container depot killed 47 people, including firefighters, and injured upwards of 400 people. In 2021, an explosion inside a central Dhaka building left seven people dead and injured at least 100. In 2020, an explosion in a Fatullah mosque killed 34 people.
No one has been prosecuted or held responsible for these events.