Cooking gas trapped in the Narayanganj mosque was ignited by a spark at an overloaded circuit-breaker, and the inferno didn’t last more than a couple of seconds, explosives experts said yesterday.
The gas accumulated there from a leaky pipe underneath the building, the bomb disposable unit of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime of police said in a report.
There were signs of sparking and the circuit board inside the mosque was burnt, officers said, adding that the incident happened following a power cut.
The officers came up with the findings following a two-day long investigation at the mosque in Narayanganj city’s Talla area where a fire left 27 dead and 10 others critically injured.
According to the report, an almost unscathed ceiling fan indicated that the fire lasted only a couple of seconds.
The degree of burns suffered by most of the victims indicate that they were exposed to similar levels of flame, “which only comes out of gas explosions”, the report said.
There is no evidence suggesting that any of the six units of air conditioners at the mosque had exploded.
The report further notes that the victims and the people in the vicinity had not heard any explosion or loud noise which could be an indication of an exploding AC.
“The mosque turned into a gas chamber, because of the leaky pipe,” bomb disposal unit In-charge Rahmatullah Chowdhury told The Daily Star yesterday.
“When the air conditions were turned on after a power cut, sparks from the circuit board ignited the gas and resulted in the tragedy,” he added.
Rahmatullah said his unit will undertake shadow investigation of any incident of similar nature that might happen in the future. This would help identify those responsible.
The unit used to give opinions in investigations of arson, bomb attacks and accidental blasts.
A ten-member team has already been formed by the unit to investigate such incidents and fact-check claims made by others.
They will also check building-layout, ventilation, electric lines, and gas connections to specifically identify those responsible for such occurrences and then bring them oto book, officers said.
The team of bomb disposal officers has contacted expert teams in the UK who are likely to visit Bangladesh after the Covid-19 pandemic, added the officials.
The unit In-charge Rahmatullah said they are working to make a guideline and suggestions that would help avert such accidents in the future.
Friday night’s tragedy happened at Pashchim Talla Baitus Salam Masjid around 8:45pm.
Two people injured in the fire died yesterday at Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery in the capital, raising the death toll to 27. They are Monir Farazi, 30, and Md Imran, 30, said Dr Samanta Lal Sen, coordinator of the institute.
The institute for the first time released a victim yesterday.
Md Mamun, 30, had suffered 12 percent burns, said Resident Surgeon Partha Shankar Pal.
“He had not suffered respiratory burns. We asked him to visit again after a week,” he added.