At least three people have been killed and several injured after a gas explosion tore through a parish building in the centre of Madrid, raining masonry on the street below.
Initial investigations suggested the blast, which happened just before 3pm on Wednesday, occurred during a boiler repair.
The building, on calle Toledo near the Plaza Mayor, belongs to the parish church of La Virgen de la Paloma, and contains priests’ lodgings and meeting rooms.
The residents of a care home next door were evacuated without injury, while staff and children in the parish school on the other side of the building also escaped unharmed.
José Manuel Franco, the central government’s delegate in the Madrid region, confirmed the cause and the death toll to Spanish TV later on Wednesday afternoon.
“I can confirm that it was a gas explosion that happened during a boiler repair,” he told RTVE. “Three people have died and one person is missing.”
Madrid’s emergency services said six people had minor injuries, one had moderate injuries and a person with multiple injuries was in a serious condition in hospital.
The city’s mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, said firefighters were inspecting the damaged building to determine whether the blast had damaged the neighbouring care home.
The school released a statement confirming that no one had been injured and that “all the children and staff are fine”.
Leire Reparaz, a local resident, told the Associated Press that she heard a loud explosion just before 3pm while heading to her home near the Puerta de Toledo.
“We didn’t know where the sound came from,” she said. “We all thought it was from the school. We went up the stairs to the top of our building and we could see the structure of the building and lots of grey smoke.”
Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, tweeted his condolences, writing: “We are sadly mourning some deaths following the explosion in calle Toledo. I’ve just spoken to the mayor of Madrid, @AlmeidaPP_, to express my support and solidarity. All our love and condolences to the families of the dead and wounded people.”
Source: The Guardian