The powerful blast that ripped through a four-storey building at Maghbazar is the latest of a series of such deadly incidents that has occurred over the years in Bangladesh. All such accidents have taken place in residential areas mostly from accumulated natural gas on account of the leak or defective connections of pipes to ovens in kitchens. In some cases substandard LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) cylinders or their faulty uses have been responsible for such deadly explosions. The worst such explosion occurred in a mosque at Narayanganj's Paschim Talla, in which at least 24 people died and many others sustained burned injuries of different degrees. In several other gas explosions, a number of people were killed and injured before this incident. An entire family of four died because of a blast originating from faulty gas connection in a rented house where the family moved only a week ago. Chattogram witnessed its worst such tragedy when lighting the gas burner in the kitchen caused the explosion from the previous night's accumulated gas. In that tragic accident in 2019, eight people were killed and 15 others injured.
Two elements emerge as the main cause of such accidents: first, leak in gas pipe and, second, unawareness of users. The usual practice of leaving gas burners burning continuously could not be done away with by many residents. At times, this hazardous practice leads to such accidents. The next thing is lighting the burners without opening windows of kitchens, particularly in the winter. But the prime reason behind such frequent household explosions is gas leak. This should have been cause for serious concern for the authorities concerned. Immediately after the multi-storey building collapse in Miami, the mayor of the Miami-Dade county ordered an audit of all the buildings over 40 years old. The purpose is to identify structural damages and potential hazards. Gas connections to residential houses are more than 50 years old in some cases. They warrant a thorough check for damage to gas pipes and faulty connections. Also there should be regular routine check of gas connections to both residential buildings and industries.
As for LPG blasts, damaged and date-expired cylinders are potentially hazardous. Manufacture of high quality cylinders is a must. At the same time arrangements have to be made for regular check if cylinders get damaged at the time of transportation. Usually the expiry date is not engraved or printed for easy inspection. The manufacturers must be compelled to have the expiry date embossed or printed in clear letters for all to see. The users should also be cautious in handling the LPG cylinders.
The cause of the blast at Maghbazar is yet to be known. Prima facie evidences point to gas accumulation as the cause of the blast. But if the investigators come across the right clue, they may conclude differently. If no such causes are discovered, there is every likelihood that this tragic blast was also caused by gas leak. In that case, inspection of residential gas pipes and connections in the capital and elsewhere has to be started immediately. Otherwise, more such tragedies will occur.