Dhaka: Fire service workers on Wednesday continued rescue operations for the second day as the death toll of a powerful blast at a commercial building in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka rises to 17.
According to fire service officials, the second day’s rescue work started at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. An army team also joined the rescue efforts.
Brigadier General Md Main Uddin, director general of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, said they halted their rescue operations inside two affected buildings around 8:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday after they were marked as risky due to the damaged columns in their basements.
At least 17 people have been killed and hundreds of others injured in the massive explosion that took place at around 5:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday at the Cafe Queen building in Gulistan’s Siddique Bazar of old Dhaka. At least 4 people are still reportedly missing.
“We’ve come to know that at least 500 people were injured in the incident,” Dhaka district’s administration chief Mohammad Mominur Rahman told Xinhua on Tuesday night, adding that 20 of the victims with critical injuries were admitted to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
After inspecting the treatment program of the blast victims, Bangladeshi Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the majority of the deaths occurred due to bleeding from head injuries sustained by the blast debris.
Two multi-storied buildings were damaged due to the explosion. None of the buildings reportedly collapsed completely, but the debris of the floors landed on pedestrians and caused serious injuries, according to the fire service control room.
Broken glass walls of several nearby buildings and shopping malls littered the road outside the building that exploded. A bus standing on the opposite side of the road was also heavily damaged.
The exact cause of the blast remains unclear.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Khandker Golam Faruq said they did not find any evidence leading to an act of sabotage that could cause the explosion. An investigation is underway to find out if the explosion in the building was an accident or sabotage.
“Our bomb expert team is looking into the matter,” he told reporters while visiting the accident site.
The tragic incident happened within days of a huge blast at an oxygen plant in Bangladesh’s southeastern Chattogram and a market in Dhaka, leaving at least nine dead and 40 injured.