A gas pipeline under a mosque packed with worshipers exploded outside Bangladesh’s capital, killing more than 15 and badly burning dozens, police and fire officials said.
The blast occurred at the end of evening prayers Friday at Baitus Salat Jame Mosque in Narayanganj district, just outside Dhaka, police chief Zayedul Alam told the Associated Press.
By Saturday afternoon, the death toll had climbed to 16, including a 7-year-old boy. Reuters put the count at 16.
Roughly three dozen worshipers were taken to Dhaka’s specialist burn and plastic-surgery hospital with burns on up to 90% of their bodies, unit coordinator Samanta Lal Sen told the news outlets.
“I saw smoke was belching out of the mosque after the sudden explosion with a big bang and people were screaming,” Mohammad Ratan told Reuters. “Some were rolling on the street as they tried to put out the flames on their bodies.”
Fire officials are investigating the blast.
“We primarily suspect that gas leaked from the pipeline and accumulated inside since the windows were closed. The explosion was probably triggered due to sparks when the air conditioners were turned on,” said senior fire service official Abdullah Al Arefin, according to Reuters.
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