Rescuers pull girl, 13, from collapsed Belgian building

28th January 2010, Comments 0 comments

Rescue workers pulled a 13-year-old girl out from rubble hours after a suspected gas explosion destroyed an apartment building in the Belgian town of Liege on Wednesday, local police said.

BRUSSELS - The girl, who was said to be "doing well" in hospital by Liege police spokeswoman Veronique Baccus, was one of at least two people who were trapped after the building collapsed, leaving another 22 people injured.

Baccus said the numbers wounded and hospitalised had risen to 23, "including two seriously."

The blast occurred at 1:45 am (0045 GMT) in a multi-storey apartment building in the historic centre of the eastern Belgian city.

The explosion also damaged neighbouring buildings, shattering windows and damaging parked cars.

The apartment block where the explosion happened collapsed hours later as the rescue efforts were ongoing.

"We are still looking for people in the rubble, though we are not sure who's there," Baccus said earlier.

"We had oral contact with two people who had not been rescued by the time the front facade collapsed."

She explained that until they could verify exactly how many people were in the buildings at the time of the explosion it was impossible to say precisely how many were unaccounted for.

Some 50 other people needed shelter after leaving their damaged homes, with some looking for family and friends.

A local hotel offered free rooms while a crisis centre was opened in a nearby church, with food and camp beds available.

Belgium's King Albert II was due to visit the area later in the day.

The blast was apparently caused by a domestic gas explosion. However, police launched an investigation to determine exactly what happened.

On Saturday a resident of the building in question contacted emergency services saying he could smell gas, local councillor Willy Demeyer told reporters.

However, no gas leak was discovered then, he added.

The Liege fire service said that one fireman was lightly injured.

"I thought it was a bombing. The was a lot of damage... we saw this house in flames and people inside screaming," said Christine Defraigne, a municipal councillor who had been in the nearby town hall.


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