Tue, Jun 03, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Police suspect gas leak in Dhaka hotel explosions

AGENCIES , DHAKA

Blasts suspected to be caused by a ruptured gas pipeline sparked a fire in a hotel in the Bangladeshi capital, injuring at least 45 people, authorities said yesterday.

Officers were investing the explosions that occurred late on Sunday at Hotel Orchard, a 12-floor building in central Dhaka, senior police official Mrinal Kanti Saha said.

‘Not a bomb"

“We are still trying to find what has happened,” Saha told reporters at the scene, adding that there had not yet been any evidence of a bomb.

Another security official, Mahbub Islam, said he suspected the blasts were caused by a leak in a gas pipeline.

“We are checking the whole place. Bomb or gas, it’s a serious incident and we are taking it seriously from a security point of view,” a senior police official said.

The fire engulfed three floors of the hotel, Saha said.

Firefighters were called out to douse the blaze and rescue hotel guests, many of them awakened by the explosions.

The injured included two Sri Lanka nationals who were staying at the hotel, Saha said. One of them was identified as A.R. Samaltilak, a visiting official from Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon, in whose room the first explosion occurred at 9:30pm, Saha said.

A fire ensued after the first explosion, followed by two more blasts a few hours later, shattering glass windows and tossing furniture and refrigerators into the streets from the 6th and the 7th floors.

Samaltilak reportedly told police officers that the first blast occurred in his 6th floor room when he lit a cigarette before going to bed, Saha said.

Injured

Samaltilak was being treated at a Dhaka hospital for severe burn injuries, Saha said. He gave no details about the second injured Sri Lankan.

He said many of the injured suffered burns and were given first aid treatment. Others were injured by glass shrapnel.

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