Two dead in suspected gas explosion in Belgium

Firefighters at the Paardenmarkt area of the port city of Antwerp where the blast occurred late on Monday. Apart from the two dead, 14 others were injured in the explosion, six of them seriously. Several people were pulled alive from the rubble after
Firefighters at the Paardenmarkt area of the port city of Antwerp where the blast occurred late on Monday. Apart from the two dead, 14 others were injured in the explosion, six of them seriously. Several people were pulled alive from the rubble after the blast severely damaged several buildings in a part of the city where many students live.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BRUSSELS • Belgian rescuers found two dead bodies early yesterday at the site of a powerful suspected gas explosion in the port city of Antwerp that also injured 14 people, police said.

Six people were seriously injured, with one of them in a critical condition, after the explosion in a part of the city where many students live.

The blast late on Monday, which police say is not linked to terrorism, severely damaged several buildings in the Paardenmarkt area of central Antwerp, a Dutch-speaking city in northern Belgium.

"Police confirm two more victims found under the rubble, both deceased. The victims have not yet been identified," Antwerp police said on Twitter.

Several people were pulled alive from the rubble on Monday night.

"Investigations into the cause of the explosion at Paardenmarkt continues," it added.

Belgium's French-language broadcaster RTBF reported that a gas leak was suspected as the cause of the blast at around 9.30pm (local time) on Monday, though it had yet to be confirmed.

Police said the explosion was not related to terrorism, while Belgium has been on a high state of alert since 16 people were killed in suicide bombings in the capital Brussels in March 2016.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2018, with the headline 'Two dead in suspected gas explosion in Belgium'. Print Edition | Subscribe