Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Fatal Series of Domestic Gas Cylinder Explosions in Sri Lanka; A tragedy Rooted in Failed Process Safety Management

Deshai Botheju1, Kumuduni Abeysinghe2 and Ajith De Alwis3

1Academy of Safety & Environmental Studies Norway.

2University of Stavanger, Norway.

3University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.


A series of explosions and gas leak accidents related to domestic LP gas cylinders had created an environment of fear, anger, and social unrest throughout Sri Lanka. More than 400 explosions and gas leak incidents had been reported during the first week of December 2021. Multiple fatalities had also been associated with this series of events. This was perceived as a "distributed major accident" scenario shrouded in mystery, as there was an apparent attempt to mislead or conceal the true nature of the tragedy. This article explores and analyses the surrounding facts and potential root causes with added attention on the prevailing process safety culture in the country. Lessons to be extracted from this fatal series of events can help improving process safety cultures in many other regions in the world.

Keywords: Change management, Industrial accidents in Sri Lanka, LP gas explosions, Process safety management, Safety culture.

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