Anwar, a resident of Nangalkot in Comilla, is a mason by profession.

He has been selling balloons on the side to support his family for the last five years.

Thursday’s gas cylinder blast injured at least 50 people including 15 children. Anwar and five members of his family are among them.

Now locals have started talking about how the man used to run this business, carelessly.

Anwar and his two daughters were in critical condition, said Dr Asif Imran of Comilla Medical College Hospital.

Anwar’s sister Farhana Akhter was seen at the hospital on Friday tending to his daughters Apnan, 8, and Mariam, 6.

His other sister Nasrin, 28, and her son and daughter, Nazmul, 7, and Nusrat, 3, also sustained injuries.

Anwar’s wife lost consciousness seeing the severity of the injuries of her family members.

Farhana said her brother used to sell balloons to wholesalers and had received a large order for a fair at the village to be held on Saturday.

Anwar used to make balloons inflating helium gas by mixing chemicals inside the cylinder. Local resident Emran Hossain told Dhaka Tribune that he had seen Anwar mixing calcium oxide with some tablets and other chemicals.

“When I went to buy a balloon, I saw that the cylinder was heating up and Anwar was pouring water on it,” said Moukara Union Parishad Chairman Alamgir Hossain. “I think it exploded due to overheating.”

He said the cylinder had been “old and rusty” and Anwar had repaired some of its cracks.

“He was blowing up balloons in his own backyard. There are 20-25 homes around his yard which houses around 200 people. When he was inflating balloons, around 50 people, including children, went there,” the UP chairman added.

Nangalkot police station OC Md Faruk Hossain said: “We do not know how Anwar got the cylinder. We have inspected the spot but no complaints have been filed yet.”

In 2019, six children were killed and at least 20 injured after a balloon seller’s gas cylinder exploded in Mirpur, Dhaka.

According to the Department of Explosives, such hawkers in Bangladesh illegally produce highly combustible hydrogen gas inside the cylinders, and use that gas to inflate balloons and sell them.

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