People suffer power outage as Sitakunda blast ruins transmission line

    Originally posted in The Business Standard on 06 March, 2023

    Over 5,000 people and a number of businesses located in Sitakunda, Chattogram have been suffering due to a power outage since the explosion at Seema Oxygen Plant damaged the transmission line there on Saturday.

    The electricity transmission line in the area was completely destroyed in the explosion. As per an initial estimation, the loss amounts to Tk15 lakhs. The explosion might also have damaged the transformers, which would take the amount of loss to crores of taka, Sheikh Kawsar Masum, executive engineer of Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), Foujdarhat, told TBS.

    He said there are five transformers which supply power to around 1,000 families and a significant number of factories in the area.

    The repair work will be started soon after getting the clearance from the fire service and civil defence authorities. However, if the transformers are damaged, it will take time for the situation to normalise, he added.

    Sultana Razia, a housewife in the area, told TBS that they cannot pump up water as there is no electricity to run the motor. They were fetching water from a distant tube well for cooking, but they have not been bathing or washing clothes for the last few days.

    Ali Akkas, a resident of that area, said, “At night we immerse in darkness, and during the day we suffer due to unbearable heat. I contacted the authorities several times but did not get any solution.”

    Nazmul Hossain, owner of a factory in the area, said he has incurred losses as the production in his factory stopped due to lack of electricity. If the situation does not become normal in a couple of days, the amount of loss he will have to suffer will be huge.

    Seven people have died in the blast at Seema Oxygen Plant in Kadam Rasul (Keshabpur) area of Sitakunda on Saturday afternoon. Among the 30 injured, several have lost sight and hearing and are undergoing treatment at Chattogram Medical College Hospital.

    The investigation committee formed by the Chattogram district administration visited the site on Sunday afternoon and said they found several irregularities and signs of negligence there.

    A number of injured workers told TBS that the accident occurred as oxygen cylinders exploded due to excessive pressure.

    The explosion was so powerful that tremors were felt over a two kilometre-area around the factory. Around 300 houses and 10 industrial establishments suffered damage worth over Tk50 lakh in the incident.