An explosion ripped through a building in a crowded area of Bangladesh’s capital on Tuesday, killing at least 19 people and injuring more than 50 others, according to authorities in the South Asian country.
Mahid Uddin Khondekar, additional commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said the cause of the blast was unknown but it may have been a gas explosion.
“We are not sure, but it seems accidental,” he said, adding that the number of casualties and scale of the damage would become clearer after firefighters and rescue workers had completed their operations.
Not many people were inside the building at the time of the blast, but its location on a busy road near a market meant pedestrians were impacted, Dhaka Metropolitan Police said.
Photos show firefighters and emergency responders carrying out search and rescue operations after dark. The damaged building has crumbling and missing walls; some units appear to have collapsed completely and debris covers the ground outside. Relatives of the victims are seen mourning outside.
As of Wednesday morning, 22 people remain in hospital, according to fire service official Dinomoni Sharma.
Sharma said the Bangladeshi army would work to secure what remains of the building on Wednesday, and an investigation would be conducted into what caused the blast.
The blast follows two other fatal explosions this past weekend in the country; on Sunday, three people were killed in a suspected gas explosion in Dhaka, a densely populated megacity that’s home to more than 23 million people.
On Saturday, seven people were killed and several others injured when a fire broke out following an explosion at an oxygen plant in southeastern Bangladesh.