MADRID Ė A powerful explosion that ripped through a top-floor apartment in a high-rise building in southeastern Madrid and blew out several of its walls has left 16 people injured, emergency services said on Friday.
An elderly woman suffering from burns and a 20-year-old man with cuts and bruises were taken to separate hospitals in the Spanish capital, the first-responders said.
ďItís on the top floor, the 13th I believe,Ē a man who identified himself only as Antonio and said he was a neighbor, told Cadena Cope radio station at the scene. ďThe dining room area and the back end of the kitchen have been blown away, they no longer exist, and the whole area has been cordoned off by the fire services and police so we canít get close,Ē he added.
The apartment where the explosion happened was inhabited by elderly people and an investigation had been launched into how a gas leak could have sprung and been responsible for the damage, police sources told EFE.
The entire building was evacuated and emergency services set up a small field hospital in a street outside to attend to the injured, most of them hurt by falling bricks and masonry although some had to be treated for anxiety attacks, the sources said.
The explosion, which took place at number 17 Pablo Neruda Avenue, a reasonably leafy street in the Puente de Vallecas district on the outskirts of Madrid, caused significant damage to the building and some adjoining homes, the sources said.
Four of the apartmentís wall were blown out, leaving bathroom units still attached by pipes hanging out, while a restaurant at ground floor level had suffered considerable damage after being hit by falling rubble.
The street and some of the vehicles parked below were covered in rubble and many windows belonging to neighboring homes had been blown in, police said.
Specialist firefighters were reviewing the entire building floor-by-floor to see how much structural damage had been caused to it, while other agents were doing the same to nearby addresses to determine the extent of the destruction and also to verify if there were more people inured.
Roadblocks were set up outside by firefighters as well as Municipal and National Police so as to stop anyone else being injured by falling rubble, the sources said.
The local Town Hall deployed 13 firefighting units to the area while 11 ambulances belonging to Madridís emergency service had set up a medical post at the scene, the sources said.
The National Police had deployed its specialist rapid reaction and scientific units, the sources said.