At least six killed in blast at oxygen plant in Bangladesh

At least eight people have been killed and dozens more were injured after an explosion at an oxygen manufacturing unit in southeastern Bangladesh, officials say.Six bodies have so far been recovered.

Police officer Asharaful Alam said the explosion occurred on Saturday afternoon at the plant of Sima Oxygen Limited near the port city of Chattogram (Chittagong), 250km southeast of the capital Dhaka, killing five plant workers.

The sixth man died as a large piece of metal fell onto his shop near to the site of the blast that also caused a fire, he said.

It took nine fire engines more than one hour to douse the flames while firefighters also rescued those who were injured at the site of the blast, Alam said.

The blast ripped through the metal structures of the factory, causing extensive damage to the plant that produced oxygen for industrial use, mostly for the shipbreaking industry in Chattogram, the officer added.

Shamim Ahsan, chief of Chattogram Medical College Hospital, said 21 people were being treated at his facility.Four others were being treated at other hospitals, he added.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion.

The government has launched an investigation into the blast and has asked a three-member panel to report back in a week, Abul Bashar Mohammed Fakhruzzaman said.

Deaths from fires and blasts at industrial production sites are a frequent occurrence in Bangladesh.

Nearly 50 people died when a blast triggered a massive fire at an inland container depot in Chattogram in June last year.

The death toll could rise as a rescue operation was ongoing at the plant at Sitakunda, 40 km (25 miles) from the southeastern port city of Chittagong, they added.
It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, a fire service official said.
“Six bodies were recovered from the site,” local government official Shahadat Hossain told Reuters, adding a rescue operation was continuing.
A huge bang was heard which shook an area with a radius of up to two kilometers, police official Nayhanul Bari said, quoting witnesses.
A massive fire at a container depot in the area killed 50 people and injured nearly 200 in June last year.
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