The death toll from a suspected gas explosion and fire at a mosque outside the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka has risen to 16, police and doctors said on Saturday.
The gas explosion on Friday night hit as Muslim worshippers were about to end their evening prayers at the Baitus Salat Jame mosque in Narayanganj district, nearly 25 kilometres south of Dhaka, police officer Zayedul Alam said.
Thirty-seven victims with severe wounds were taken to Dhaka’s specialist burn and plastic surgery institute, he said.
Overnight, 10 people died at the hospital, doctor Partha Sankar Paul told reporters. Five more people died during the day on Saturday, he said, warning that the death toll could rise further.
A seven-year-old boy who had burns on nearly 95 per cent of his body died hours after he was admitted to the hospital, according to Samanta Lal Sen, head of the institute.
Most of the victims are reported to be in critical condition.
Television footage showed relatives of the deceased wailing outside the hospital.
Members of the Fire Service and Civil Defence department, who extinguished the fire, said a gas leak might have caused the explosion.
“Primarily, we are suspecting that gas accumulated from a line beneath the mosque might have caused the explosion,” said Abdullah Al Arefin from the fire service.
Six air conditioners inside the mosque also exploded, he said.
A police bomb disposal unit had collected evidence from the scene to examine the cause of the blast.
Brigadier General Sajjad Hossain, head of the Fire Service and Civil Defence department, said the state-run gas transmission and distribution agency, Titas, and the district administration had launched separate probes into the accident.