Gas pipeline blast kills 16 praying at Bangladesh mosque

DHAKA, BANGLADESH (AP) — An underground gas pipeline near a mosque exploded during evening prayers outside Bangladesh’s capital, leaving 16 Muslim worshippers dead and dozens injured with critical burns, officials said yesterday.

The blast occurred on Friday night as people were finishing their prayers at Baitus Salat Jame Mosque at Narayanganj, local Police Chief Zayedul Alam said.

By yesterday afternoon, 16 people, including a seven-year-old boy, succumbed to their injuries. Doctors at a burn unit of a state-run hospital were treating at least 37 people with burns on up to 90 per cent of their bodies, a coordinator of the unit Samanta Lal Sen said.

TV stations reported that because of the impact of the blast, at least six air conditioners also exploded inside the mosque.

Firefighters were investigating the cause of the explosion.

Fire Service and Civil Defence Assistant Director Abdullah Al Arefin said officials suspected gas accumulated inside the mosque from a leak in the underground pipeline, and that it had gone unnoticed.