Unanswered Questions Surround Kapan Explosion as Sole Evidence Points to Just Two Gas Cylinders for Three Fatalities

Unanswered Questions Surround Kapan Explosion as Sole Evidence Points to Just Two Gas Cylinders for Three Fatalities

Kathmandu : In 2075, a fire broke out in Jyatha when oxygen gas came into contact with the sparks of the water-pumping motor.

There were 80 oxygen cylinders used for “trekking'” on the ground floor of a local Suman Sthapit’s house. When the fire broke out at four o'clock in the morning, 25 of these cylinders burst.

Seven people were injured in the incident including Sthapit. The damage was estimated to be 100 million. All the injured survived.

Due to the explosion, the wall on one side of the two floors collapsed, while the walls and doors of other houses around the square were cracked.

Around 20 oxygen gas cylinders were apparently destroyed in the explosion in Kapan. According to Dawa David Sherpa, there were small five liter and big 20 liter oxygen gas cylinders while the kitchen was also near the room.

David, who is also the owner of Elite Trekking, said when he went to the kitchen area to check, all the items including LPG gas were safe. Even the bag of rice was not burnt. It shows that the damage may have been caused by the items stored in the same trekking room.

But apart from oxygen gas cylinders and mattresses, were there any explosives? It could not be confirmed from anywhere.

“We were also surprised to see the damage to the house. When we checked the LPG gas kept in the kitchen, it had not exploded. The major fires could have been caused by plastic materials such as mattresses. But we are also surprised what really caused such huge damage”, said David.

If David’s claim is to be believed, they took a retired British Army Explosives man to the scene who said that “it may not be only oxygen gas that caused such an explosion”.

The fire was so terrible that despite the use of fire engines from all over the valley, it was brought under control only at four o'clock the next morning.

But while analysing the investigative report and the evidence on site reveals nothing else can be found. If you look at the investigative report of the Police and the initial report from the Metropolitan Police Circle, Bouddha, that conducted the initial investigation, it looks like a normal incident.

The Central Bureau of Investigation of the police seems to have gone a little deeper into the investigation. But the Bureau’s investigation has not yet reached a conclusion.

Two cylinders blast, only evidence in report

Although it is said that the oxygen cylinder used for trekking exploded in the incident, the eyewitnesses said that the sound like a bomb was heard repeatedly, and a series of explosions continued.

In the video taken by the eyewitness of the incident, loud explosions are heard from time to time.

But it is not clear what caused such sound.

Tenzing Sherpa, 29, of Taplejung, Chhewang Sherpa, 24 of Solukhumbu and Ashok Rai, 32 of Sankhuwasabha died in the incident. Kushal Budhathoki, who was injured in the same incident, recovered after treatment.

Even in the investigative report obtained by Ukeraa, nothing other than the cylinder is seen at the crime scene; however, the size of the damage is huge.

According to the report, a motorcycle in the compound of the house was partially damaged and a scooter was completely burnt.

All the rooms on the ground floor of the house and 2 rooms on the upper floor seem to be rented by Nirmal Purja’s trekking company.

As per the report, the walls of all the rooms on the ground floor were also broken and all the furniture of the rooms were burnt and destroyed.

It is mentioned that the furnishings of the rooms in the southern part of the second floor were completely destroyed by the fire.

In front of the house, the brick wall of the ground floor on the south east side has also been damaged.

The glass windows on the exterior are broken. The west and side parts of the house were also burnt and the windows were broken.

The explosion damaged not only that house, but also the neighbor’s house.

Dhurba KC's cowshed on the west side was also burnt down. The zinc sheets and windows of the nearby Mount Kailash Boarding School were also damaged.

According to the report, two plastic drums placed on the upper floor of Dhurba Khatri's two-storey concrete house on the south side were also damaged in the fire and the glass of the windows were broken.

According to the report, several oxygen gas cylinders were discovered at the location. Among them, a 4-liter cylinder with the word 'Nimsdai' written on them was found to be intact, while some other cylinders were damaged by the fire.

The police seem to have taken those cylinders as evidence from the crime scene.

All ten cylinders of LPG gas in the house were found to be in good condition and were mentioned in the investigative report, which was issued recently.

The compound with the house also looks huge. The windows and doors of two floors were completely burnt when the explosion occurred.

Uncertainty lingers as both parties remain tight-lipped

Apart from the cylinder, other explosives have also been mentioned in the complaints lodged at various places about the explosion.

In the complaint made by Yuvantika to the Nepal Tourism Board and others, it seems that she also claimed to have High Explosive Avalanche Control, M One Zero One.

In the police report, house owner Ghising stated that the explosion and fire were caused by oxygen gas cylinders, however, he doubts that the only reason for such a huge fire could be only those cylinders. He claimed to Ukeraa that some illegal incendiary items might have been in the room. However, he was clueless about what it could be.

David claims that there were no illegal items in the room except for the oxygen cylinders and mattresses used for trekking.

“No trekker in Nepal uses High Explosive Avalanche Control, M One Zero. It is not possible to hide it. Legally, no one can bring it to Nepal,” he said, “if something like that was hidden and leaked, then some evidence related to it would have been found at the scene of the incident. If this is proved then we must take the responsibility of all three people who lost their lives. We will take it.”

When Ukeraa searched for the use of the 'High Explosive Avalanche Control, M One Zero' claimed by Yuvantika in the application, it was not confirmed from anywhere.

The Ministry of Home Affairs informed Ukeraa that this type of explosives cannot be brought by anyone other than the army. The army did not seem to bring such goods.

When discussing about the Yuvantika’s claim with more than five mountaineers who regularly climb mountains, they say that they do not know whether the mountaineers of other countries use this kind of explosive or not, but they say it is not possible to use them in Nepal.

The Central Investigation Bureau of Police seems to have collected other items along with cylinders from the crime scene and tested it. However, there is no mention of recovery of any suspicious items as claimed.

What happened after all? Was the damage caused by the explosion of gas or some other explosives as claimed? Why is there no agreement between Nims and the landlord? What is the aspect of Yuvantika’s fake citizenship?

The Ukera series continues.

२८ फागुन, २०७९, २१:०१:२१ मा प्रकाशित

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