20 injured, two missing in Belgium apartment explosion

27th January 2010, Comments 0 comments

Twenty people were injured and at least two feared trapped under rubble Wednesday after an apparent gas explosion badly damaged two buildings in the Belgian city of Liege, emergency services said.

BRUSSELS - Two of those injured were said to be in serious condition in hospital.

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

Hours later one of the buildings, of four or five stories, collapsed, according to a journalist at the site.

"There are 20 injured in hospital, including two seriously," said Liege police spokeswoman Veronique Baccus.

"We are still looking for people in the rubble, though we are not sure who's there," she added. "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 were taken to a local community hall to get them away from the danger area.

The blast was apparently caused by a domestic gas explosion in one of the buildings, both of which were badly damaged, the spokeswoman said.

"We saw the facade buckle, and then the building collapsed. There is just rubble above the first floor," a journalist with state broadcaster RTBF said.

"It happened as firefighters were trying to reach two people alive inside." The Liege fire service said that one fireman was slightly injured.

The explosion rocked the neighbourhood and shattered windows in nearby buildings, including the town hall.

"I thought it was a bombing. There was a lot of damage... we saw this house in flames and people inside screaming," said Christine Defraigne, a municipal councillor.


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