At least seven people were killed and dozens of others wounded after an explosion ripped through a multistorey building in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, police and firefighters said on Sunday.
The explosion occurred at a four-storey building that housed many shops, showrooms and private offices in Dhaka's downtown Moghbazar area, firefighter Faysalur Rahman said.
The blast damaged at least three city buses carrying passengers stuck in traffic congestion in front of the building and other establishments around it, he said.
Many bystanders and bus passengers sustained injuries as their windshields and glass doors were smashed, Rahman said, adding that the cause of the blast, which triggered a fire at the building, could not be ascertained immediately.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police chief Shafiqul Islam told reporters at the site that at least seven people had been killed in the accident.
Accumulated cooking gas at a restaurant housed at the building might have caused the explosion, Islam said, adding there was no evidence to suggest it was an act of sabotage.
The explosion caused damage to seven more adjoining buildings, he said.
Chief of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence department Sazzad Hossain also suspected gas accumulation as the cause of the blast. However, he placed the death toll at three.
40 people in hospital
He said a four-member panel had been assigned to assess the damage and ascertain what had caused the explosion.
Rescuers found the bodies of two people at the scene and rushed more than 40 others to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, a major public health facility in the capital, police officer Sazzadur Rahman said earlier.
The third victim died at the hospital, he said.
Twelve people who sustained burn injuries are said to be in critical condition, said Samanto Lal Sen, head of the hospital’s burn and plastic surgery unit.
Television footage showed police cordoning off the accident site, which was littered with debris, including shattered glass from the adjacent buildings.