Sri Lanka orders probe into mystery cooking gas explosions

Sri Lanka’s parliament has convened a special committee to investigate dozens of unexplained cooking gas explosions and fires in kitchens around the country.

Following police and media reports of at least 14 explosions in a single day, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Tuesday appointed an eight-member committee to investigate and provide a report within two weeks.

Consumer Affairs Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna told parliament that on average 10 explosions were being reported daily.

“We accept that more than 40 percent of Sri Lanka’s 5.1 million households are living in fear because of this issue. Businesses are also affected. The government is on the side of consumers and once investigations are complete a full report will be presented to the House,” he told parliament on Tuesday.

A McDonald’s restaurant in the capital Colombo was gutted by fire caused by a gas leak on November 20. Since then, multiple incidents of gas cookers exploding or catching fire have grabbed news headlines.

Some consumers have moved cylinders outside or started to cook in their gardens. Videos of do-it-yourself leak tests have flooded social media.

Milinda Premachandra’s wife suffered severe burns when their cooker exploded in their small eatery in Colombo.

“My wife will never be the same again. My whole life has fallen apart,” he said.

“The authorities must do something soon. Someone must answer for what is happening to innocent people.”

State-run Litro gas, which provides more than 80 percent of Sri Lanka’s liquefied petroleum gas cylinders for domestic and commercial use, rejects claims that the explosions are due to a change in the propane and butane mix of cylinders introduced earlier this year.

It instead blames faulty regulators and dilapidated stoves and has not recalled any cylinders.

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