After the incident, the police’s counter terrorism unit questioned the building owner Mashiur Rahman about the illegal gas connection. He said that a few years ago they had used the gas line, but later had the connection severed.
Titas Gas officials said recently the city corporation had begun work in the sewerage line in front of the building. The gas pipeline had been damaged during the work. The workers simply covered up the leak with soil, but the gas leaked through the sewerage line into Shwarma House. There is a sewerage line cover in the Shwarma House cooking area. The gas came through this and also through the water line and accumulated in Shwarma House. When it came in contact with fire, the explosion occurred.
Attempts were made from 5:00pm till 9:00pm Thursday to reach the Titas Gas managing director (MD) Ali Iqbal Md Nurullah over phone to inquire about the matter. He did not reply to the calls. Questions were sent to him by WhatsApp and the same questions were also sent to the Titas Gas public relations department officer Mirza Mahbub Hossain. Neither of them responded.
Six inquiry committees are looking into the Moghbazar blast. Titas submitted an inquiry report to Petrobangla two days after the incident. The report said that Titas had no liability in the accident as there were gas connections in the building. The abandoned riser was mentioned, but no details were given. They hinted that the blast may have been caused by the LPG cylinders in Shwarma House.
However, two officials of Petrobangla and Titas have said LP gas is relatively heavy. If it did leak out of the cylinder by any chance, it would remain near the floor. It could not accumulate in the air and create such a massive blast. Also, two cylinders were found undamaged with no signs of any explosion. They said that the Titas report was makeshift. The inquiry committee also found no indications of any air conditioner explosion in the building.
The Fire Service and Civil Defence submitted its report on Wednesday. They clam the explosion took place due to the accumulated gas. However, they failed to pinpoint the source of the gas. Petrobangla, the explosives department and the police are also to submit reports. An official of the explosives department, on condition of anonymity, said that there is evidence that the gas which cause the explosion came from a leaked Titas pipeline.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, the chief inspector of the explosives department, Abul Kalam Azad, said it hadn’t been possible to complete investigations due to the lockdown. And head of the police headquarters’ inquiry committee, also head of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC), Md Asaduzzaman, said that their report would be submitted shortly.
In the meantime, the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) has formed an inquiry committee on Monday. The seven-member inquiry committee includes representatives of the roads and highways department and the explosives department. BERC member (gas) Maqbul-e-Elahi Chowdhury told Prothom Alo that as allegations point towards Titas, they have not kept any Titas representative in the committee. The committee will begin work very soon.
The blast took place on the evening of 27 June at the ground floor of a three-storey building in the Moghbazar Wireless Gate area of the capital city. Twelve persons died in the incident and over 200 injured. There had been a deafening sound and the windows of seven buildings nearby were shattered. The widows of three buses on the road shattered too.
The Ramna police filed a case on 29 June against unidentified persons, alleging death due to negligence.
* The report, originally published in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten for English edition by Ayesha Kabir