More than 100,000 people defied Bangladesh’s lockdown order on Saturday to attend the funeral of a senior leader of the Islamist party in the district of Brahmanbaria, authorities said.
The estimated size of the crowd was confirmed by the prime minister’s special assistant, Shah Ali Farhad and the Brahmanbaria police spokesman, Imtiaz Ahmed.
The funeral for Maulana Zubayer Ahmad Ansari, an Islamic teacher, broke the country’s ban of no more than five people attending prayers at one time, sparking fears of a new coronavirus outbreak emerging from the event.
Tens of thousands of people flooded the roads to Brahmanbaria district, walking from the surrounding areas to attend the funeral, according to Mohammad Mamunul Haque, the joint secretary general of the Islamist party.
The police were unable to control the crowd, resulting in the officer in charge and assistant superintendent being withdrawn from the event and a committee being formed to start an investigation into how such a large crowd was allowed to congregate, according to Sohel Rana, the Bangladesh Police Central spokesman.
As of Sunday Bangladesh had recorded 2,456 positive cases of coronavirus and 91 deaths, but officials say the actual numbers are likely higher due to lack of testing kits.
Abir Mahmud is a journalist reporting from Bangladesh. CNN’s Jaide Garcia in Atlanta contributed to this report.