Gas canisters found in German blast that kills 1, injures 11

Gas canisters found in German blast that kills 1, injures 11

Police said they found gas canisters and old war munitions in an apartment where a blast occurred early on Friday (Dec 13) in the eastern German city of Blankenburg, killing one person and injuring at least 15 others.

Explosion in an apartment block in the eastern German city of Blankenburg
A damaged building is pictured after several people were injured in an explosion in an apartment block in the eastern German city of Blankenburg on Dec 13, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Marvin Gaul)

BLANKENBURG, Germany: Gas canisters were found in an apartment where a blast occurred early on Friday (Dec 13) in the eastern German city of Blankenburg, killing one person and injuring 11 others, one of them severely, the city's mayor said.

The deceased victim was believed to be a 78-year-old man who was renting the property where the canisters were found, officials said at a press conference, though this could not be confirmed until the body had been retrieved.

Another victim was taken to hospital with severe burn wounds. Several police officers were treated for smoke inhalation.

eastern German city fire
One person was killed and several people injured in an explosion in an apartment block in the eastern German city of Blankenburg on Dec 13, 2019. (Photo: Facebook/ Freiwillige Feuerwehr Blankenburg der Stadt Blankenburg / Harz)

Firefighters work at the site of an apartment building explosion in Blankenburg
Firefighters gather at the site of an apartment building explosion in Blankenburg, Germany on Dec 13, 2019, in this image obtained from social media. (Photo: Facebook/ Freiwillige Feuerwehr Blankenburg der Stadt Blankenburg / Harz)

"We were all confronted with a picture of devastation when we arrived," mayor Heiko Breithaupt told a news conference held in a nearby school, recounting his arrival shortly after the explosion at 9am local time.

Police said that their earlier belief that war munitions had been found on the scene had not been borne out on closer inspection.

In an indication of the scale of the blast, one firefighter told reporters that on rushing to the scene after the blast he found three people lying unconscious on the road outside.

Explosion in an apartment block in the eastern German city of Blankenburg
Police secure the scene after several people were injured in an explosion in an apartment block in the eastern German city of Blankenburg on Dec 13, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Marvin Gaul)

The blast had torn through one section of the five-storey building, causing damage on both the street and courtyard sides. The 50 people living there would all need to be rehoused, Breithaupt said, adding that the building's structural stability was currently being checked.

Officials believed the gas canisters, which may have been used to supplement the house's district heating, had caused the blast. Police were being assisted by specialist explosives teams.

Fire engines gather at the site of an apartment building explosion in Blankenburg
Fire engines gather at the site of an apartment building explosion in Blankenburg, Germany on Dec 13, 2019. (Photo: Facebook/Freiwillige Feuerwehr Blankenburg der Stadt Blankenburg / Harz)

The area around the property was sealed off and nearby residents were evacuated, including children at a local nursery. None of the children was hurt, police said.

Photos showed a communist-era residential block with smoke rising from blackened, twisted window-frames on the second floor.

Blankenburg is a city in the hilly Harz district, in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.

Source: Reuters/aj

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