A suspected gas pipeline explosion at a mosque in Bangladesh killed 17 people and injured dozens as worshippers were about to end their prayers, officials say.
- Authorities believe the explosion was sparked when air conditioners were turned on
- An investigation into the cause of the explosion is underway
- Poor building regulations and enforcement have often been blamed for similar accidents
The blast occurred on Friday night (local time) at a mosque in Narayanganj district, just outside the capital Dhaka.
At least 37 people were rushed to Dhaka’s specialist burns and plastic surgery hospital, most of them with severe burns, doctors said.
Seventeen people, including a child, died after they sustained burns, said Samanta Lal Sen, coordinator of the burns unit.
The death toll could rise further as many of them were in critical condition, he said.
“I saw smoke was belching out of the mosque after the sudden explosion with a big bang and people were screaming,” local resident Mohammad Ratan said.
“Some were rolling on the street as they tried to put out the flames on their bodies.”
Fire officials said gas that accumulated from a leak in a pipeline running underneath the mosque likely triggered the explosion.
“We primarily suspect that gas leaked from the pipeline and accumulated inside since the windows were closed,” senior fire service official Abdullah Al Arefin said.
“The explosion was probably triggered due to sparks when the air conditioners were turned on.”
Authorities have launched an investigation into the incident.
Lax regulations and poor enforcement are often blamed for domestic and industrial fires in Bangladesh.
In February last year, an inferno in a centuries-old neighbourhood of Dhaka killed 71 people.
A month later, 25 people were killed when fire broke out in a 22-storey commercial building in an upscale area of the capital.