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Dhaka Tribune

Police final probe report finds no negligence of owners in BM Container Depot explosion

Court to hold hearing on report on Monday

Update : 05 May 2023, 05:59 PM

The Detective Branch of the police in Chittagong has not found any negligence of Sitakunda's BM Container Depot owners or officials in the massive explosion and fire there on June 4 last year, which left 51 people dead and 250 injured.

According to the final report of the DB submitted to court on Tuesday, eight officials, accused in a case filed over the explosion, were not responsible for the blast.

It was not an act of sabotage, but an accident, said the report, which came to light on Friday.

Along with this, the eight accused in the case have also been recommended to be exempted from the trial.

The DB made this recommendation in its final report given to the relevant Chittagong court 11 months after the incident.

Chittagong Court Inspector Zaker Hossain Mahmud said the court is scheduled to hold a hearing on the report on Monday.

However, the report of an inquiry committee formed by the deputy commissioner after the incident said that the owners and supervisors cannot deny their responsibility for the fire.

The report also highlighted how officers and supervisors are involved.

Chittagong DB chief Noor Mohammad said the police investigation did not find that the accident was caused by sabotage or negligence. This explosion was an accident. Negligence of the owner or other employees was not found in it. 

Earlier, at the end of Ramadan, as the identities of eight people who had died in the explosion were not confirmed, their bodies were buried at a local graveyard through Anjuman Mufidul Islam following a court order, said the DB chief.

Fire and filing of case

The devastating fire and subsequent blasts at the BM Container Depot in Sitakunda left 51 people dead and hundreds injured on June 4.

At least 10 of the deceased were firefighters.

On June 8, Ashraf Siddique, sub-inspector of Sitakunda model police station, filed a case under Sections 337/338/304(ka) and 427 over their negligence against eight officials of the depot, which led to the blast. 

The eight accused are General Manager Nazmul Akhtar Khan, Deputy General Manager (Operations) Nurul Akhtar Khan, Manager (Administration) Khaledur Rahman, Assistant Administrative Officer Abbas Ullah, Senior Executive (Administration) Nasir Uddin, Assistant Manager Abdul Aziz, Depot Shed In-charge Saiful Islam and Assistant Depot In-charge Nazrul Islam.

In the statement of the case filed in the case of fire and explosion in the depot, it was said that the owner did not inform the fire service about the presence of containers full of chemicals in the depot. Due to this, it was not possible to extinguish the fire of the chemical container with water. The fire spread from one container to another due to chemicals. 

It is further mentioned in the statement of the case that apart from storing the imported and exported garment products in containers, drums full of chemicals were also kept at the BM depot. But the depot authorities did not have enough firefighting equipment and trained manpower to deal with the fire. They did not have any kind of preparation to extinguish the fire with chemical substances. In this situation, when the fire originated in the depot, several teams of fire service tried to put out the fire with water. But the depot authorities did not inform the fire service about the presence of chemicals in drums. The fire spread from one container to another due to the chemicals in the drums. This fire could not be extinguished with water. Instead, six-seven containers of chemicals in drums exploded simultaneously.

The police also mentioned that due to the severity of the explosion, the glass of many buildings within two to three kilometres of the surrounding area fell to pieces. Fire service personnel, police personnel and a large number of people on the spot were injured by the scattered fragments of the exploded container. That is why it took time to bring the fire under control. Negligence of duty by officials, poor management and mismanagement in the operation of depots resulted in fires and casualties.

First, Sitakunda police started investigating the case. Later, the case was transferred to the DB.

Resumption of activities

According to BM depot sources, the import-export product management of the BM Container Depot has started in full swing.

After the accident, import-export and empty container storage operations using the depot were suspended. After renovating the depot, Customs allowed the storage of only empty containers on August 22.

On October 25, approval was given for the management of garment export activities on nine conditions.

Due to the fulfilment of the conditions, the import-export activities were allowed to start in full swing on November 7.

However, approval has not been given for the handling of chemical products at the BM depot.

In 2011, Smart Group of Bangladesh and a company from the Netherlands launched BM Container Depot.

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