• Monday, Dec 16, 2019
  • Last Update : 02:31 pm

Rupnagar Gas Cylinder Blast: Survivors battling for life

Rupnagar Gas Cylinder Blast
File photo: A critically injured child arrives at Dhaka Medical College Hospital to receive treatment on Thursday, October 31, 2019 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Death toll rises to 7; police sue inexperienced balloon seller

Undergoing treatment, the survivors of Wednesday’s tragic gas cylinder blast in Dhaka’s Mirpur are still somewhat holding on to dear lives, while one of them lost the battle as he succumbed to his injuries yesterday.

Critically injured eight-year-old Nehar, son of Sarwar Hossain, died while undergoing treatment at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) around 1am, raising the death toll from the accident to seven.

Confirming the development, DMCH police outpost’s In-Charge Inspector Bachchu Miah said the child’s body was later sent to the DMC morgue for autopsy.

On Wednesday afternoon, six children were killed and at least 20 others injured after a gas cylinder belonging to a balloon seller exploded on a road in Mirpur’s Rupnagar Residential Area.

Seven of the blast survivors, including four children, are now being treated at DMCH. Most of them are in critical condition.

They are — balloon seller Abu Sayeed, 25 — sustained injuries on both hands and right leg and burns on abdomen; Jannat, 25 — lost her right hand; Jewel, 25 — admitted with a broken hand; Siam, 11 — suffered 5% burns on his face; Jony, 10 — sustained injuries on his face; Mostakim, 9 — suffered 25% burns on his body; and Mizan, 6 — sustained severe injuries on his abdomen.

DMCH casualty department's Resident Surgeon Dr Mohammad Alauddin said: "These survivors are admitted in wards under different departments."

Of them, Mizan's condition is most critical and he was in the ICU, he said.

"The others are also not out of danger yet. We are providing them the best treatment. We’ll be able to give update on their condition several days later," Alauddin added.

Bodies handed over

Meanwhile, bodies of the seven deceased children were handed over to their families from Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital (ShSMCH) and DMCH yesterday, following autopsies.

Apart from Nehar, the other six were identified as Farzana Aktar, 6, Nupur, 11, Ramzan, 9, Rubel, 11, Ria Moni, 7, and Rifat, 12.

Their bodies were handed over at ShSMCH in the afternoon.

ShSMC Forensic Department’s Dr KM Moinuddin said these six victims were already dead when they were brought to the hospital on Wednesday.

“The bodies were mangled, with some missing their limbs. Visceral organs of some of them even were exposed due to their injuries,” he said.

Nehar’s body was handed over to his parents at DMCH around 7:20pm.

Mazharul Islam, executive magistrate of the Deputy Commissioner's Office, Dhaka, yesterday told reporters that they have already provided Tk20,000 as financial support to the families of the deceased for the funerals.

He said they also visited the DMCH to list the wounded, who will be given Tk5,000-15,000 based on their injuries.

Inexperienced balloon seller sued

Early yesterday, a case was filed against Abu Sayeed over the fatal explosion that left the capital city and the nation shocked.

Rupnagar police station OC Abul Kalam Azad said Sub-Inspector Banik Sumon filed the case under the explosives act around 3am. “Then we showed Abu Sayeed arrested in it.”

After the explosion Wednesday, balloon seller Sayeed was admitted to the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation, well known as Pongu Hospital. He was later shifted to DMCH by police.

Talking to Dhaka Tribune at DMCH, Sayeed said he had started selling balloons just two weeks ago, and did not have much experience in producing the gas inside the cylinder.

Department of Explosives’ Chief Inspector Md Samsul Alam on Wednesday had said that such mobile balloon sellers usually mix caustic soda and powdered aluminium inside used and abandoned cylinders, to produce highly inflammatory hydrogen gas on the go, which is illegal, instead of using helium.

Sayeed could not recall the name of one of the chemicals he was mixing inside the cylinder right before the explosion. “I used to mix caustic soda and another chemical in the cylinder, every time it ran out of gas [hydrogen].”

“I don’t know how or why this [the explosion] happened,” he said.

Before he started selling balloons, Sayeed used to work as a tailor, his cousin Mofizul Islam told Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

Originally from Chuadanga’s Darshana, Sayeed had moved to Dhaka some eight years back. Since then, he had been living in Duaripara area of Mirpur 11, Mofizul said.

He said: “After quitting his tailoring job recently, Sayeed took some training from an elderly person in Savar on how to produce gas in a cylinder and blow up balloons for selling.”

Finding this business more profitable and lucrative, Mofizul said, Sayeed started selling balloons to children at Rupnagar Residential Area — mainly on Road No 11, near Monipur School and College.