Mosque Tragedy: Investigators start digging for gas leaks

The Fire Service and Civil Defence-led probe body is to dig up the floor of the blast-hit Narayanganj mosque today to see if the gas pipeline that runs beneath the three-storey structure is leaking.

There has been a widespread allegation that the explosion was caused by the gas that leaked from the underground pipeline and accumulated inside the ground floor of the mosque.

Meanwhile, four more people, who suffered severe injuries in the incident, died yesterday while undergoing treatment, raising the death toll to 25.

The deceased were identified as Mohammad Ali, 55, Zulhas Farazi, 35, and Shamim, 45 and Abul Basher, 51.

They succumbed to their injuries while undergoing treatment at Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery, said Dr Samanta Lal Sen, coordinator of the institute.

Twelve more victims are now undergoing treatment at the institute and they are not out of danger, he told The Daily Star yesterday.

Of the victims, six are receiving treatment at the Intensive Care Unit.

Abdullah Al Arefin, assistant director of Narayanganj Fire Service and Civil Defence, told The Daily Star that they have already started investigating into the incident.

“We are also checking the electric connections of the mosque with the help of the experts,” said Arefin, a member of the four-member probe body formed by the fire service.

The fire service officials examined all the six air conditioners installed at the mosques but did not find any evidence that suggests any of the ACs exploded.

“Only the upper portions of ACs melted due to the fire,” he said.

Earlier, Al-Amin, religious affairs secretary of the mosque management committee, said three underground gas pipelines run around the mosque compound.

“One of them [pipeline] is partly underneath the mosque while two others are also pretty close,” he said.

People in the neighbourhood said they first noticed signs of gas leakage nearly two months ago.

Mosharaf Hossain, assistant superintendent of police in Narayanganj, also a member of the five-member probe body formed by the district administration, said they have already started investigating into the case.

But they are facing difficulties in getting comments from the eyewitnesses as all of them have suffered burn injuries and are undergoing treatment at the hospital.

The ASP, however, said they have started collecting statements from nearby residents and were hopeful to complete the investigation within the timeframe.

The tragic explosion happened at Pashchim Talla Baitus Salam Mosque of Narayanganj around 8:45pm after Esha prayers on Friday.

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Md Enamur Rahman said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was taking regular updates of the victims.

Maximum efforts are being made to save lives of the burn victims but everyone’s condition is alarming, he said after visiting the victims at the institute yesterday.

The minister said the doctors were trying their best to provide treatment of the fire victims admitted at the institute. But unfortunately, almost all the patients are suffering from inhalation burn, he said.

He further said a case was filed in Fatulla Police Station for negligence. Three investigation committees have been formed to investigate the incident and if anyone’s negligence is found, action would be taken against them in accordance with the law, he warns.


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