Disasters & Accidents

Blast rocks apartment building in Uruguay’s capital

Montevideo, Jul 22 (EFE).- At least two people were badly burned Friday in an explosion and ensuing fire at a residential building in Montevideo, Uruguayan authorities said.

A husband and wife in their early 60s were taken to the hospital, fire commissioner Ricardo Riaño told a news conference at the scene, adding that one of them – he did specify which – had burns over 80 percent of his or her body.

The blast wave reached nearby structures and first responders are still trying to determine how many people were injured, he said.

On a more positive note, Riaño said that there was no reason to believe that anyone was trapped under rubble.

Everything indicates that the explosion originated on the third floor, but the structural damage is delaying the start of the investigation into the cause, he said.

With two floors of the building at risk of collapse, the immediate priority is “to secure the area,” the chief said.

“The work will be very slow in the sense of being able to shore up the zone and be able to remove the rubble to later conduct the appropriate investigation,” Riaño said.

“It’s a catastrophic situation to which we are not accustomed, but for which we are well prepared,” Juan Antonio Rodriguez, director of the System of Emergency Medical Attention (SAME), said, pointing to the rapid dispatch of ambulances to the scene.

One of the residents, who identified himself only as Alejandro, told reporters that he began to notice “a strange odor” in the building on Thursday. EFE scr/dr

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