Still reeling from shock | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:59 PM, November 18, 2019

Still reeling from shock

Case filed against absconding Ctg building owners; probe committee visits blast site

A sense of fear has gripped residents of port city’s Patharghata Brickfield Road, following the massive gas explosion at a house on Sunday morning, which left seven people dead and at least 15 wounded.

Like the probe committee, they want to know reason behind the blast and demand proper investigation so that such incidents do not reoccur.

Meanwhile, a case was filed with Kotwali Police Station, accusing two owners of “Barua Bhaban”.

Yesterday, the probe committee formed by the Chattogram District Administration visited the spot, collected evidence and recorded statement of an injured person.

Assistant Commissioner (Kotwali) Nobel Chakma said, “Wife of blast victim Mahmudul Haque, a rickshaw-puller, filed the case.”

Officials said building owners -- Amal Kanti Barua (48), and Titu Barua (40), sons of late Dharmapal Barua -- were sued over their negligence, which eventually killed and injured people.

The Barua brothers, who are on the run, used to reside on the top floor of the building, said Ismail Bali, councillor of Patharghata ward. The building has been vacated, he added. A two-storey building, next to Barua Bhaban, was also vacated.

Around 8:40am on Sunday, 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.

Fire fighters and explosives experts said the blast occurred due to a leak in gas pipe riser, but Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Ltd officials refuted it.

Additional Deputy Magistrate AZM Sharif Hossen of the district administration, in-charge of the probe committee, said, “We have visited the spot… spoken to Sandha Nath, who used to stay on the ground floor.”

“It’s still not clear why the blast occurred… We did not find any sign of burns there. But a resident of the building [ninth-grader Arpita Debnath] sustained burn injuries… We will visit the spot tomorrow [today] again,” he added.

The official said they have included two members of the district administration and explosives department in the committee. 

Visiting the area yesterday, this correspondent found that people were panicked. Many were seen gathering in front of the building trying to make sense of the situation.

Parvin Akhter, a local, said, “My house was also affected by the massive blast… We demand investigators unearth the reason behind this incident so that others don’t have to face such catastrophe.”

Ali Akbar of New Market area said, “I saw the incident on television, but up front you can sense the magnitude of the damage.” 

BUILDING CODE BREACH

Officials of Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) and city corporation had also visited the spot.

Shahinul Islam, chairman of CDA’s Building Authorisation Committee, said, “The building was constrcuted violating the CDA code… The gas riser was installed inside the house, which is also a violation of the code.”

“A septic tank was built right under the house where the accident occurred… the owner put up the boundary wall, on part of the road.”

“The area is densely populated and has old buildings… As per the masterplan, the road should be 40-feet wide. But we have found it 20-feet wide as most land owners built buildings  on parts of the road,” he said.

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