At least two people were killed and several were injured when a building belonging to a church partially collapsed in a massive explosion that rocked central Madrid on Wednesday, reports said.
La Sexta TV quoted government sources saying the cause may have been a gas leak, but officials could not immediately confirm, Reuters reported.
Mayor José Luis Martínez Almeida, who visited the site, told Telemadrid that two people died in the blast but that he couldn’t confirm how many were injured.
A nearby nursing home was evacuated although no injuries were immediately reported among the residents.
No serious damage was reported in a nearby school, which was empty, according to TVE, because classes had not resumed yet following a record snowfall in the Spanish capital on Jan. 9.
“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 Telemadrid, according to Reuters.
The building provided residential training for priests and gave meals for the homeless, a neighbor told Reuters.
A reporter for TVE said several people were injured in the blast, while a witness told Telemadrid that there was at least one person trapped inside.
“Ongoing incident in the area of #PuertodeToledo. Please avoid the area and clear the way to emergency resources…will be informed if specific recommendations are necessary,” Madrid’s civil protection services said on Twitter.
One user on the site posted images of the building and wrote: “There has just been a terrible explosion on Calle Toledo,” the UK’s Mirror reported.
Leire Reparaz, who lives near the Puerto de Toledo, a local landmark, said 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 said.
Videos and images posted on social media showed a plume smoke coming out from the building and rubble strewn across the neighborhood.
With Post wires