Noakhali residents Md Ismail (30), Md Yusuf (30) and Md Rakib (28), came to port city in early November in search of work.
Two weeks went by, but the three friends could not find anything. Meanwhile, the money they had was almost finished. So, they decided to head back home.
On the morning of November 17, they went to Kadamtoli Bus Terminal to catch a bus bound for Noakhali. There were about to board one when Ismail received a call from his father-in-law. He told them to go to Sadarghat as he managed some work for them there.
They were relieved. They hopped on a rickshaw and started heading to their destination. Finally, after so many days of desperation and disappointment, their luck will change, they thought.
When the rickshaw -- carrying the three friends lost in conversation amid hope for a better life -- was crossing Patharghata Brickfield Road, a massive gas explosion occurred at a house and a chunk of the building’s wall fell on them.
The rickshaw-puller died on the spot and the three were injured critically.
They are being treated at Chattogram Medical College Hospital (CMCH).
On the day, seven passers-by -- two women and five men -- were crushed to death as concrete walls fell on them following the explosion, which took place on the ground floor of the five-storey building.
The explosion also left at least 15 injured.
Among them, condition of five persons -- Sandhya Rani Devi, 45, and the three -- are critical. Another victim, Arpita Nath, 15, was referred to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).
The rest were admitted to various hospitals in the city. Most of them were released as they suffered minor injuries.
Visiting the CMCH casualty ward yesterday, this newspaper saw Ismail was getting blood transfusion.
Ismail, who suffered from polio during his early childhood, said, “I came to Chattogram hoping to find work. I was about to head back home to my family... but everything changed all of a sudden...”
Even though critically injured, he kept thinking about his five-member family. “I’m the only bread-earner in my family…,” he said in a worried voice.
His two friends were receiving treatment next to him.
Not too far from them, Sandhya laid on a bed. She lived in the two-room house where the explosion took place.
After her husband passed away last year, she had been living with her sister’s family and taking care of her nephew and niece. On the day of the incident, she and her niece Arpita were injured in the blast.
The doctor said she is suffering from internal bleeding and needed blood transfusion frequently.
Her nephew Arnab Nath was sitting beside her. “Even now, when she is fighting for her life, she is asking about my sister Arpita,” he said.
Rivu Raj Chakraborty, head of CMCH casualty ward, said the injured are under close observation.
Arpita, who sustained 30 percent burns, was shifted to DMCH on Sunday, said doctors.