At least 24 people — including a seven-year-old boy — are known to have died when a gas pipeline erupted in a mosque outside the Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Friday during evening prayers.
Authorities are investing the incident, which is believed to have been caused by the blaze that followed an explosion on a leaking gas pipeline in Narayanganj district.
Many more worshippers remained in hospital as of Sunday evening, tens of those suffering with severe burns.
Fire officials said that gas accumulated from a leak in a pipeline running beneath the mosque likely triggered the explosion.
There has been growing anger after the committee running the mosque claimed that state-run gas company Titas Gas had demanded a bribe to quickly repair the leaking pipeline.
“A probe body is looking into how the explosion occurred and whether there was any negligence on our part,” Titas Gas managing director Ali Al Mamun was quoted as saying by The National newspaper.
Local media reported that gas had been smelled for several days before the fatal fire.
Bangladesh’s Energy Minister Nasrul Hamid has visited the site and ordered an investigation into the committee’s allegations, a ministry spokesman said.
"We primarily suspect that gas leaked from the pipeline and accumulated inside the mosque since the windows were shut. When the air conditioners was turned on, due to sparks the gas could have exploded," Abdullah Al Arefin, a senior fire service official, was quoted as saying by the Al Jazeera news network.
Bangladeshi media often reports the faulty installation of gas pipelines, while unplanned road-digging work can result in blasts amid the country’s rapid industrial expansion and economic development.