Staff Correspondent: A police investigation has found that accumulated gas in the enclosed part of a store on the ground floor of a building was responsible for the deadly blast in Dhaka’s Moghbazar.
It confirms the Fire Service and Civil Defence finding in the accident that resulted in the collapse of parts of the building, leading to 12 deaths. The Fire Service investigation into the incident is also nearing its end.
“We are certain that the gas accumulated inside a part of the Bengal Meat store and the surrounding, turning it into a gas chamber, which caused the explosion,” said Asaduzzaman, an additional commissioner of police who is heading the investigation.
The investigation report by the police’s counterterrorism unit will be ready by next week and more details will be available then, he said.
Bengal Meat, however, claims its outlet had no gas lines. “The Moghbazar store had temperature control equipment, but we didn’t use gas for any cooking,” said Al Amin Bhuiyan, head of the commercial team at the company. “There weren’t any unused rooms or storage either. As customers were constantly going in and out, gas wouldn’t have had a chance to collect there.”
Asked about the police finding, he said: “The investigation team is full of experts. They will be able to determine the cause of the disaster.”
Al Amin claims that, like all of its stores, the Bengal Meat branch in Moghbazar was built and organised with safety as “the highest priority”.
The Bengal Meat official said that the families of the two employees killed in the blast are receiving all forms of support.
During their investigation, the Fire Service found a gas line in the damaged building and informed Titas Gas of the matter.
There should not have been a legal gas line there, said Sabil Awal, a manager at Titas Gas. “We are looking into where that line led and who used it.”
On Jun 27, a massive blast at the building caused the ground floor and the first floor to collapse. Besides the deaths of 12 people, over 100 others were injured in the incident.
The blast was big enough to shatter the glass windows and panels of more than a dozen buildings nearby and damage three buses passing through the area. A bus driver and a passenger were among the dead.
The Bengal Meat store occupied nearly half the ground floor, while the rest of the space was rented by a Shawarma House restaurant. The first floor had a showroom for Singer, an electronics giant.
The scope of the blast has led to investigations of the incident by both the Fire Service and the police. The investigation reports have however been delayed.
Both agencies believe trapped gas to be the cause of the explosion.
The Fire Service investigation report will be submitted early next week, said Debashish Bardhan, its deputy director.
“We have said from the start, and now have confirmed, that trapped gas was the cause of the explosion. The investigation team will provide the details.”
The Fire Service investigation is led by Lt Col Zillur Rahman, who told that they had taken the statement of landlord Mashiur Rahman and would be concluding their probe soon.
The landlord used to live in the building but was now living in Dhanmondi, Lt Col Rahman said. The owner had received permission from RAJUK, the Dhaka city development authority, to demolish the current building and replace it.
“The explosion was caused by methane gas,” he had told the media during an inspection of the scene, a day after an investigation team was formed.
An investigation team from RAJUK is also scheduled to submit its report next week, according to Engineer Mobarak Hossain, director of the agency.
The Department of Explosives is also part of the police investigation.
The day after the explosion, chief explosives inspector Abul Kalam Azad had said a trace of hydrocarbon gas was found at the scene of the disaster. Natural gas and crude oil are mixtures of different hydrocarbons.
Asked about the police finding of methane gas, Azad on Friday said the department can confirm the matter once its three-member separate committee files a report. The committee sought more time to file the report.
“Methane, LPG, CNG, natural gas – all belong to the hydrocarbon group. So it will be better to speak specifically after getting the report.”
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