At least three people have been reported dead and several injured as an explosion tore through a building in central Madrid, Spain on Wednesday. Initial investigations have suggested that the blast was caused by a gas leak.
In an address to reporters, Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, Mayor of the Spanish capital said that an 85 year old woman and man had died in the blast. Later, it was confirmed that a third member of the residential tower had died as well, while another man was ‘missing’. It was speculated that the missing person may have been working on the building’s heating system when this explosion occurred.
The blast site in Calle Toledo, close to the city centre, was immediately attended to by nine fire crews and 11 ambulances.
In videos later uploaded, smoke is seen billowing out of the building as rescue workers tried to move elderly people to a nearby nursing home. The top five floors of the building were charred and completely blown out, while the bottom two floors were only damaged in certain places. Images showed debris from the blasts all over the nearby street.
A nearby resident said that this building was mainly a residential tower for priests and church officials and trainees, and often gave food and shelter to homeless people.
Many of those affected by the blast have been sheltered in nearby restaurants and bars, while a hotel nearby has also offered its rooms for shelter of the residents who have lost their homes.
While initially, the number of casualties were feared to be much higher, considering that this building is located next to a nursing home for the elderly as well as a school, but as of yet, only three fatalities have been reported.