An 85-year-old woman was among three people killed today as a gas explosion blew apart a seven-storey block in Madrid while a repairman worked on the boiler.
The top four floors of the building, belonging to the Catholic Church, were obliterated at around 3pm, leaving the centre of the Spanish capital looking like a war zone.
Speaking at the scene, Mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida said an 85-year-old woman had died along with a man whose age was not immediately clear, while the third victim was still ‘under the rubble’.
A fourth person, believed to be the boiler repairman, remains unaccounted for.
Another 11 people were injured, one of whom was in serious condition. Church sources said it was a recently-ordained priest.
Despite the force of the blast, no one was hurt in the elderly care home next door, nor in an adjacent school where tonnes of rubble fell into the playground while the children were in lessons, city officials said.
Three people have died and several have been injured following an explosion at a building in central Madrid. Pictured: Smoke coming out the building shortly after the blast
Fire-fighters carry a body next to a damaged building at Toledo Street following an explosion in downtown Madrid
Several floors of the building in Madird’s Toledo Street have been affected by an explosion that ripped through the building (pictured) at around 3 pm local time, killing three people
A building belonging to the Catholic Church burns after a deadly explosion in Madrid, as firefighters fight the blaze
Debris fills the street and the neighbouring rooftops after the blast as flames continue to spew from the block in Mardid
The inside of the building after it was blown apart by the explosion, left, and firefighters ascend to the rooftop on a cherry picker tonight as they assessed the damage, right
Firefighters continued to battle the blaze in the building belonging to the Catholic Church after a deadly explosion in Madrid on Wednesday afternoon. Initial investigations suggested that the blast in Calle Toledo, a street leading out from the city centre, had been caused by a gas leak, Madrid’s Mayor said
Pictured: An injured man is taken away by paramedics on a stretcher from the scene of an explosion in Madrid on Wednesday. Three people have been confirmed dead, with eight people said to be injured – one seriously
A loud explosion has partially destroyed a small building flanked by a school and a nursing home in the center of Spain’s capital, on Toledo street. Pictured: An injured person is transferred from the scene of the explosion
‘I can confirm the death tally currently stands at three and a fourth person is missing,’ Jose Manuel Franco, a central government representative for the Madrid region, confirmed on Wednesday afternoon. ‘The man who is missing is a person who had been called in to repair a boiler at the building when the explosion occurred.
‘One of the person who died was in the street and the other two appear to have been in the building where the blast occurred,’ Franco said. ‘As soon as the police are able to enter the building with sniffer dogs, we will able to establish if there are more victims in the rubble.’
According to emergency services, two of the three fatalities included an 85-year-old woman who was walking down the street at the time of the blast, along with another man whose age has not been provided.
A 26-year-old man was the most seriously injured in the blast, who has been transferred to the La Paz hospital in a ‘moderate-serious condition’, according to El Pais.
Other people injured included a 53-year-old man being treated at Ramón y Cajal hospital, and another man who suffered a broken leg, who is also being treated at the hospital.
‘It appears there has been an explosion in the building. At least two people have died,’ mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almedia said earlier in the day. ‘The building is on fire but firefighters say it’s not prudent to enter at the moment.’
Youngsters at a school near the scene of the blast in Calle Toledo, a street leading out from the city centre, were unharmed, although parents experienced moments of panic in the aftermath of the explosion as they went to pick children up on their first day back after devastating Storm Filomena.
A statement from La Salle La Paloma school said that ‘everyone is fine’, adding ‘We want you to be calm. Thank God nothing has happened at school, we are all fine.’
Firefighters shine torches throughout the building as they continued their work on Wednesday night
The guts of the building were laid bare by the colossal blast which killed at least three people
Firefighters work next to a damaged building at Toledo Street following an explosion in downtown Madrid, Wednesday, January 20. Flames are seen amid the rubble on the stre
Firefighters outside the entrance to the block in Madrid as fire spews from the threshold
A social services workers assists an elderly woman as she waits for an emergency van, following the explosion
A firetruck is parked outside the building as flames leap from the entrance and debris litters the street
Debris is scattered across the roof of a nearby building after the blast
Firefighters and police on the scene after an explosion at a building in Puerto de Toledo neighbourhood of Madrid
Martinez Almeida also said that some mild damage had been identified in a nearby school.
Spain’s public broadcaster, TVE, initially said the school was thought to have been empty, but the mayor later said that there were people there but they suffered no more than ‘scratches.’
A hotel opposite the building destroyed by the blast, thought to be church-owned and said to be used as a residence by priests, was also evacuated.
A local vicar told Telemadrid broadcaster that they had been trying to find a volunteer in the affected building.
‘The priests who live on the fifth and sixth floors are fine. We are trying to locate a volunteer who works with us,’ the vicar general told the broadcaster.
Emergency crews could be seen aiding several people on the ground in video aired by Spain’s public broadcaster.
Fire fighters work after an explosion in Madrid downtown, Spain January 20. A fire in the building was said to have been hampering the efforts of the emergency services personnel on the scene
Emergency services at the scene after six floors have collapsed at the building in Madrid, killing three and injuring at least eight
Madrid’s Mayor, Jose Luis Rodriguez-Almeida (C), speaks to the media at Puerta de Toledo in Madrid,January 20. He confirmed that three people had been killed in the Wednesday explosion
Pictured: Emergency service vehicles are seen down the street in downtown Madrid next to the building destroyed in Wednesday’s explosion. Tents have also been set up on the street
Emergency personnel and journalists gather at the Puerta de Toledo roundabout after a strong explosion hit a building in Madrid on January 20
Initial reports described the scene of the blast as an OAP home, but it subsequently emerged it was next door.
The home was evacuated but a spokesman insisted none of the residents had been injured in the blast.
‘The noise was very loud, very loud, really,’ Lorenzo Fomento, a 43-year-old Italian salesman who was working from home at a nearby apartment, told AFP new agency by telephone. ‘I never heard something as loud before,’ he added.
Before the explosion: The building pictured in the central area of the Spanish capital
People react after a deadly explosion at a building belonging to the Catholic Church in downtown Madrid, January 20. There were initially fears that people in a school near the building could have been caught in the blast, but the school confirmed ‘everyone is fine’
A police officer and medical personnel assist people after an explosion in Madrid downtown, Spain January 20.. Eight people are said to have been injured in the blast
The cause of the explosion of the building – on Toledo Street in Madrid’s trendy La Latina neighbourhood – has not yet been confirmed although initial reports said it could be a gas explosion.
A police spokeswoman said the area was being evacuated but could not confirm the source of the explosion.
La Sexta TV quoted government sources saying it may have been a gas leak. Officials could not immediately confirm.
Madrid’s emergency services said rescue teams, firefighters and police are working in a central area of the Spanish capital following the explosion that witnesses described as ‘extremely loud.’
Madrid’s emergency services said rescue teams, firefighters and police are working in a central area of the Spanish capital following the explosion (pictured)
Members of emergency team work on a damaged building at Toledo Street following an explosion in downtown Madrid, Wednesday, January 20
Videos and images shared on social media showed a tower of smoke coming out from a building and rubble scattered in a central street of Madrid.
Leire Reparaz, who lives near the Puerto de Toledo, a local landmark, told The Associated Press that she heard a loud explosion.
‘We didn’t know where the sound came from. We all thought it was from the school. We went up the stairs to the top of our building and we could see the structure of the building and lots of grey smoke,’ the 24-year-old Madrid resident said.