Two friends were returning to their homes from their workplaces by rickshaw last night just like any other day when an explosion changed their lives forever.
One of them passed the last moments of his life in agony, while the other is left with a horrific memory that will haunt him forever.
Saiful Islam, a businessman in Chawkbazar, and Mosharraf Hossain, a shoe trader, were riding a rickshaw on their way home around 10:45pm last night and were stranded at the Churihatta intersection in the capital’s Chawkbazar area due to heavy traffic congestion.
A huge explosion ripped through the spot all of a sudden, causing a massive inferno at a five-story building there.
The fire left Mosharraf and the rickshaw puller dead on the spot while Saiful luckily survived the blaze with little injury.
Saiful narrated the incident while talking to The Daily Star at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital morgue.
“I heard huge explosion and fell down on the road. Within moments, I saw the raging fire rushing towards us from a nearby building. Different burning substances started falling on vehicles and commuters,” Saiful said with tears rolling down his face.
“I could manage to stand up and then ran away to safety in a nearby ally. But my friend couldn’t escape as a flamed object hit his head,” he said after remaining silent for a moment.
“Although I got hurt in my head and legs, I came to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital to know the fate of Mosharrof with whom I have been friends for 25 years.”
“I feel guilty thinking that I might have saved my friend if I could rescue him from the spot and could admit him to the hospital,” a sobbing Saiful said.
“But the massive inferno all over the streets and burning vehicles took away my senses,” he said, adding, “I just saw a two-storey high fire rushing towards us. It seemed as if Azrail (angel of death) was heading towards us to take away our lives.”
“I found my friend at the hospital, but not alive. He left us for good.”
Meanwhile, a mother was desperately searching for his 12-year old son Jisan who came to Churihatta area of Chawkbazar from Rayerbazar area yesterday to meet his brother-in-law who worked at a factory in Hazi Wahed Mansion.
Jesmine Akter was frantically looking for a trace of his son at the DMCH morgue and the fire incident scene.
“I didn’t know he came here, but when the fire broke out and he didn’t reach home, I called his friends to know his whereabouts, and they told me that he came here,” Jesmine said.
“He was wearing ash coloured pajama-punjabi,” she added.
Nasrin Akhter was wailing near the yellow crime scene tape, just beside Chawkbazar’s Hazi Wahed Mansion, holding her father’s photo.
The worried daughter has been looking for her father Jainal Abedin Bablu at every possible place after the ghastly fire took place.
But she got no clue of his whereabout yet.
“My father left home around 10:00pm after getting a call from his friend who invited him for a cup of tea at Haji Ballu road. But he was not reachable since the explosion took place near Hazi Wahed Mansion around 10:35pm,” she said, sobbing.
“Where is my father? Did you find him…?” Nasrin was asking the fire fighters and other rescuers showing the photo if they had seen him. But no one could give her heart a relief.
Hailing from the Old Dhaka, Bablu has been living at their house in Asgar Lane with his two sons and a daughter.
Nasrin’s aunt, Shirin Akhter who also came with her, said that they looked for Bablu at Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Sir Salimullah Medical College. But no one could give any trace of him.
The family suspected that Bablu might have got trapped in the fire in front of Hazi Wahed Mansion on his way to Haji Ballu road.
According to witnesses, many people were killed on the road in front of Hazi Wahed Mansion where vehicles were stuck in a traffic jam and the victims could not escape the fire.