Mannequins lie in the middle of a sea of broken glass in the pedestrian zone of Eschweiler. A massive explosion in a residential and commercial building injured 16 people in the city north-east of Aachen on Thursday evening. Two of them, including an infant a few weeks old, are in mortal danger, as a police spokesman in Aachen reported on Friday morning. Four other people were seriously injured, ten were classified as slightly injured.
Some of the injured had "massive burns," said a fire department spokesman. The police and fire brigade assumed a gas explosion in the multi-storey house. The force of the detonation shattered all the window panes within a radius of 50 meters. Shops opposite the house from which the detonation wave came were also in ruins.
The explosion also created a fire that kept a large contingent of firefighters from the region busy for hours. The police and fire brigade received support from the Eschweiler Technical Relief Agency. The fire was extinguished by 2 a.m. However, embers were discovered later. Around 200 forces were deployed. Two firefighters were slightly injured during the rescue work.
The explosion was reported around 9:15 p.m. on Thursday evening. Adjacent houses were also badly damaged by their force. Whether the accident house itself or neighboring houses are in danger of collapsing must now be checked. Until then, residents will not be allowed to return to their homes. The number of evacuees was still unclear at night.
The investigators do not rule out third-party negligence. "It is currently unclear whether there was an accident or someone else's fault," said a spokeswoman for the Aachen police on Friday morning. "We are investigating in all directions," said a spokeswoman for the public prosecutor's office in Aachen. The authorities initially did not provide any further information.
"There was still no structural engineer in the houses," said a fire department spokesman. Eschweiler's fire brigade had raised the alarm and requested fire brigades from the neighboring towns for reinforcement. "It was a very big operation," said a police spokesman.
The authorities assumed it was an accident. So far, there is no evidence of a crime, it said. The scene of the accident was cordoned off over a wide area. Fire experts had entered the affected house just as little as a structural engineer, it said at night. The "Aachener Zeitung" had previously reported on the explosion.
Eschweiler is located between Aachen, Cologne and the North Eifel. The city has almost 56,000 inhabitants. The last major disaster there was not long ago: in July 2021, the flood disaster hit the city. The Eschweiler hospital alone, which had to be evacuated in a dramatic rescue operation, suffered damage of 120 million euros. With 1,400 employees, the hospital is the city's largest employer.
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