Belgium gas blast toll rises to nine

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The death toll from a gas explosion that flattened a block of flats in the Belgian town of Liege rose to nine Thursday as police called off rescue efforts fearing that more buildings could collapse.

BRUSSELS - The blast in the early hours of Wednesday blamed on a domestic gas leak reduced a six-storey block of flats to a pile of rubble, injuring 21 people, three of them seriously, police said in a statement.

The search for survivors was temporarily called off at 7 am (0600 GMT) amid concern that walls of neighbouring building damaged by the blast presented a danger of collapse, police said.

They said building workers were called in to secure the site for the resumption of rescue efforts. A 13-year-old girl being pulled alive from the rubble on Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier Liege firefighter Jean-Marc Gilissen said on RTBF public radio that a dozen people may still be in the ruins of the building.

"It could be a dozen people, even more," he said.

Firefighters had been called to the building over the weekend by a resident who said he could smell gas, but no problems with the gas supply were detected.


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