Deadly Vienna building blast was suicide attempt

Austrian firefighters stand in front of a partially collapsed house in Vienna April 26, 2014. The house collapsed after an explosion and five residents were seriously injured, according to police. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS
Austrian firefighters stand in front of a partially collapsed house in Vienna April 26, 2014. The house collapsed after an explosion and five residents were seriously injured, according to police. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

VIENNA (AFP) - A heavy explosion that almost flattened a Vienna apartment block was caused by the suicide attempt of a 19-year-old unemployed man, killed in the building collapse, Austrian police said on Sunday.

A gas oven had been tampered with and the man was still clutching a cigarette lighter when he was pulled from the rubble on Saturday, police spokesman Adina Mircioane said.

"There were also other indications (that he was suicidal), such as statements he made to friends," Ms Mircioane said.

The explosion wiped out two stories of the building and destroyed the roof. Thirteen people were hurt, three of them seriously including a 48-year-old woman pulled out eight hours after the blast.

"I had just got out of my car when there was an explosion like a bomb going off," eyewitness Ranko W. told the Kronen-Zeitung daily.

"Rubble was falling all around and there was an enormous cloud of black smoke. Only when I was 100m away did I know I was safe."