At least 14 people were killed and over 100 injured in a powerful explosion at a seven-storey building in Dhaka on Tuesday (March 7), said the police.
Eleven firefighting units were mobilised after the blast, which occurred around 4.50 pm (local time), the fire service control room said. “Fourteen bodies have been found (so far) but the toll could rise, as the rescue operation is underway,” a fire service official told reporters.
The building, in Old Dhaka’s crowded Gulistan area, was mostly used as an office and business complex. The ground floor housed several sanitary product stores.
The cause of the explosion could not be known immediately, but locals suspected that chemicals illegally stored inside the building might have caused it.
“Thought it was an earthquake”
“At first, I thought it was an earthquake. The entire Siddik Bazar area was shaken by the blast,” Safayet Hossain, a local shopkeeper, told The Daily Star newspaper. “I saw 20-25 people lying in the road in front of a damaged building. They were seriously injured and bleeding. They were crying out for help. Some people were running around in panic,” he said.
Hossain added that locals rushed the injured to hospital in vans and rickshaws.
Alamgir, who was close to the blast site, said, “After the loud noise, people quickly came out of the building. There was panic on every face. The glass of the building’s windows shattered and fell on the street. Many pedestrians on the street were injured.”
The blast even shattered the glass walls of the BRAC Bank branch in the next building and damaged a bus standing on the opposite side of the road, reports said. The Rapid Action Battalion’s bomb disposal unit was rushed to the spot to inspect the buildings.
Dozens of injured were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said DMCH police outpost inspector Bachchu Miah. He said all of them had been treated at the hospital’s emergency unit.
(With agency inputs)