Santo Domingo, Aug 15 (EFE).- The families of people who remain unaccounted for after a deadly explosion and fire in the southern Dominican city of San Cristobal appealed Tuesday for greater urgency in the search effort.
Ten people died in the blast Monday night and 11 of the 37 people hospitalized with injuries are in serious condition, according to authorities, who put the number of missing at 11.
Andrea Mateo said that she went early Tuesday to Juan Pablo Pina Hospital looking for her sister, brother-in-law, and niece, but “authorities didn’t say anything” about their whereabouts.
Mateo told journalists she ended up at the hospital after visiting several clinics and the city morgue in pursuit of information on the fate of her loved ones.
She said that three charred bodies she saw at the morgue did not appear to be those of her missing family members.
Sol Michel, one of several women accompanying Mateo in search of missing relatives, described the situation as “desperate.”
“Nobody knows anything here,” Michel told reporters, adding that she began making the rounds of clinics and hospitals in San Cristobal shortly after the explosion at a commercial center known as the Old Marketplace.
The director of the Dominican Republic’s emergency operations center, Gen. Juan Manuel Mendez, said that first responders have not been able to begin searching for the missing because the fire remains active.
Preliminary reports indicate that the blast took place at a hardware store. The ensuing fire spread quickly to a bakery and other establishments.
San Cristobal is a city of some 275,000 residents west of Santo Domingo.