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16 Dead, Dozens Injured in Explosion in Dhaka, Bangladesh


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At least 16 people were killed and dozens injured after an explosion rocked an office building in the commercial district of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, on Tuesday.

The cause of the explosion remained unclear, but deadly building fires and explosions are common in Bangladesh, where safety measures are often lax.

The blast shook the fourth and fifth floors of a seven-storey building in Golestan, a major commodity wholesale center in Dhaka. Several floors of the building and side walls were destroyed in the blast, sending debris and shrapnel flying into the crowded streets.

The director of the hospital, Nazmul Islam, told AFP that more than 100 people had been treated for head injuries, fractures and other injuries at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital. “At least 15 people were killed, including two women,” he added, adding that hundreds of doctors and nurses were mobilized to treat the wounded.

There was no major fire in the building, which houses dozens of warehouses, shops selling bathroom fixtures and other commercial space. A fire service spokesman said more than 150 firefighters were on the scene to assist in the rescue effort.

“Our officers are investigating whether this was an act of vandalism or an accident,” Police Commissioner Khandaker Ghulam Farooq told reporters.

A bus driver caught in the blast said that 30 of his passengers were injured when his car passed the building when the blast occurred. “I heard a loud explosion and then a flying object hit me in the head,” he told reporters. Another witness said that people were trapped on the second, fourth and fifth floors of the building when firefighters arrived and took them to the hospital.

Explosions and fires due to gas cylinders, bad air conditioners and bad electrical wiring are frequent in Bangladeshi buildings and factories. They mostly occur between November and March when the weather is dry and cool.

An explosion at an oxygen station near the southern port city of Chittagong on Saturday killed seven people. A fire and subsequent explosions at a container depot in the same city in June last year killed more than 50 people.

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