The gas explosion at Seema Oxygen Plant by the Dhaka-Chittagong highway in Kadamrasul area of Chattogram’s Sitakunda was so terrible that people died being hit by iron sheets thrown half a kilometer away.
Six people died and 25 people have been seriously injured in this accident. At least a square kilometer area around the factory was shaken by the explosion.
Earlier on the night of 4 June last year, 50 people died in a terrible explosion caused by fire at BM depot in Sitakunda’s Keshabpur. Seema Oxygen Factory is located within less than a kilometer of that depot.
After the explosion at BM depot, the fire service had started monitoring the heavy industrial area of Sitakunda to ensure fire safety and work-friendly environment.
Yet, there being a series of minor accidents and people getting killed in different factories are highly concerning.
Prothom Alo reports, work of oxygen refueling (oxygen cylinders being refilled) was going on at Sitakunda’s Seema Oxygen Plant last Saturday afternoon. Suddenly there was loud explosion then.
In total 150 employees work at the factory in three shifts. 50 employees work on each shift. Four to five people work in refueling.
The fire service is initially guessing that the explosion occurred at the time of filling the cylinders with oxygen.
Visiting the spot it was found that the explosion blew the roof off of the factory building. Bits of tin and iron sheets were scattered everywhere. Even the iron pillars of the factory building were leaning.
Front side of one of the two cylinder-laden trucks was burnt. Windows and doors of the other truck were blown away. The whole factory area was littered with gas cylinders. Even the factory walls had collapsed.
There was extensive damage including death in a gas explosion at Dhaka’s Mogbazar area two tears back.
Seema Oxygen Plant, launched in 1997, produces oxygen for using in industries. The plant used to produce 400 to 450 cylinders of oxygen a day.
The owner group has rod manufacturing and ship breaking businesses also. Oxygen produced at the factory is sold commercially.
The accident at Seema Oxygen Plant has brought many questions to the forefront.
Whether the fire safety plan, required to operate an oxygen plant, was properly in place there, whether those responsible for monitoring the factory, especially the department of explosives department and the department of factories and establishment had done that task regularly or not etc.
While several workers were killed and injured in the accident, the owners came to the spot after 19 hours of the accident.
Chattogram district administration has formed a seven-member investigation committee into the factory explosion. But, questions whether the actual truth will come out in the report of this committee or not is still there. It is essential to have immaculate safety systems in factories where flammable items like oxygen are produced.
Accidents from the recent past are a proof of how terrible the damage can be if there is an error or negligence in case of safety.
Hope that the inquiry committee will be able to find out the actual causes of the accident and the authorities will take necessary measures.
Oxygen plants aren’t the same as any other factories. If there’s any accident in these sorts of factories, people and property of the surrounding area also get affected.
Let appropriate compensation be paid to the families of workers killed and injured in the accident; although we know there’s no compensation for human life.