Dhaka, Sep 5 (efe-epa).- At least 12 worshipers were killed and dozens wounded with critical burns when an underground gas pipeline exploded and set a mosque ablaze near the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, officials said on Saturday.
Police said the explosion occurred Friday evening when Muslim worshipers were offering prayers in Baitus Salat Jame Masjid in Fatulla town in Narayanganj district, some 25 km (15 miles) southwest of Dhaka.
“There were 40 to 45 people inside the mosque at the time (of the explosion). We sent 37 injured to a hospital,” Aslam Hossain, officer-in-charge of Fatullah police station, told EFE.
Quoting fire service officials, Aslam said the incident might have happened due to the leakages in the gas pipeline underneath the mosque. He ruled out any sabotage.
The impact of the explosion was so huge that six air-conditioners installed inside the mosque exploded simultaneously when people were busy offering prayers.
Samanta Lal Sen, head of Sheikh Hasina Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, confirmed the death toll that may rise because most of the wounded have critical burn injuries.
“We have 12 dead here since last night. Most of the remaining 37 people admitted here are in critical condition,” Sen told EFE.
Accidents from the leakages of poorly managed gas pipelines are common in Bangladesh but the death toll rarely reaches the double-digit mark.
Fires and other dangerous industrial incidents are rather regular occurrences in Bangladesh, a country that has been under international scrutiny in recent years due to the precarious safety conditions in its factories, although it appears that authorities have been unable to reduce those overall risks.
According to figures from the Bangladesh Firefighters Service, between 2004 and 2018 at least 1,970 people died in the heavily populated and poverty-stricken South Asian country in the 89,923 fires reported during the time.
At least 10 people died in a fire in an illegally operating factory in Bangladesh on Dec 15 last year.
A massive fire in the old section of the capital almost destroyed seven buildings, killing at least 70 people and injuring 55, week earlier than that.
The worst industrial accident in Bangladesh’s history occurred in 2013, when 1,134 people died and more than 2,500 were injured when the eight-story Rana Plaza building housing five textile workshops collapsed. EFE-EPA