A seven-year-old boy died and at least 39 others suffered severe injuries in an air conditioner blast at Pashchim Talla Baitus Salam Mosque of Narayanganj after Esha prayers yesterday.
There was a load-shedding in the area and air conditioners exploded on the ground floor of the mosque as soon as the electricity returned.
Fire officials suspect accumulated gas from a leaked pipe line caused a fire that might have triggered the AC explosion.
Dr Samanta Lal Sen, coordinator of the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery, confirmed to The Daily Star that a seven-year-old boy named Jewel died at 12:30am this morning after being admitted with 95 percent burns.
Prof Dr Abul Kalam Azad, director of the institute, said around 35 admitted patients are suffering from 60 to 70 percent burns.
Dr Samanta said a majority of the patients have more than 35 percent burns and the condition of most of them are critical, he said.
“We are primarily providing treatment to the patients at the emergency unit of the institute. We will shift the patients to different units — High-dependency unit (HDU) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) – later, after analysing their condition,” he added.
Hospital sources said only three to four patients have 10 to 15 percent burns and others are suffering over 30 percent burns. Some have been admitted with over 90 percent burns.
Lt Col Zillur Rahman, director (operation and maintenance) of fire service and civil defence, said they are suspecting that the explosion happened inside the mosque because of a gas line leakage.
But they are also inspecting the AC and trying to identify the actual reason behind the explosion,” he said, while addressing reporters at the spot.
The fire service and civil defence authority has already formed a four-member probe body with Lt Col Zillur Rahman as head, said Kamrul Hasan, duty officer of fire service headquarters.
The incident occurred around 8:45pm.
Enamul Haque, who lives beside the mosque, told The Daily Star that he had gone to the place of worship for Esha prayers and that there was a power outage when the Imam gave his call to prayer. There were about 120- 130 worshippers at the three-storey mosque, he said.
After the prayers, around 80 remained for the nawafil prayers and when the electricity came back on, all six air-conditioners burst into flames on the ground floor, according to Enamul.
His brother-in-law, Mizanur Rahman, was one of those injured.
The Narayanaganj fire department was soon at the scene, and took the injured to Dhaka, he said, adding that he also made the journey with his injured relative.
There were hundreds of people waiting outside the institute restlessly as updates about their injured friends and relatives were not forthcoming.
Abdullah Al Arefin, assistant director of Narayanganj fire service and civil defence, told the Daily Star that a gas pipe line of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited has gone through the bottom of the mosque.
“We are suspecting that gas accumulated inside the mosque from a leak in the pipeline. The gas could not go out because the windows were closed due to the AC,” he said.
Rahmatullah Chowdhury, in-charge of bomb disposal unit of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) Unit, however, told The Daily Star that primarily they came to know that the explosion took place from the air-condition blast.
“But we are analysing the information and a team from the bomb disposal unit is also going to Narayanganj to collect evidence to get the nature and reason behind explosion,” he added.
Hearing about the fire, Nasreen Akter rushed to the mosque from their nearby house to find her husband Ibrahim, a garment worker who went to mosque just minutes before the disaster.
“I found him at the hospital. His beard had burnt off and his face was burnt beyond recognition. I could not recognise him at first,” she said in tears.
Worry gripped her as Ibrahim was the sole breadwinner of the family. She appealed for the best treatment available for her husband and other patients.
Akram Hossain, officer-in-charge of Fatullah Model Police Station, said they have inspected the spot and are investigating the incident to know the reason behind the explosion.