Page last updated at 10:00 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Flats in Liege, Belgium collapse after blast


The moment the apartment building collapsed

Belgian rescue workers are trying to save at least two people trapped in the rubble of an apartment building which collapsed overnight in Liege.

An explosion tore through the building at around 0200 (0100 GMT), starting a fire. Then the five-storey building collapsed at around 0700.

At least 20 people were injured. Two of them are said to be in critical condition.

Officials said the explosion was probably caused by a gas leak.

The blast blew out the windows of the city hall, 100m away, and spread dust throughout nearby streets.

It caused a fire that raged through the apartment block and billowed thick smoke.

Firemen evacuated the building and tried to douse the fire, but had to flee when the building fell down.

"We saw the facade bending and then one of the buildings crumbled. There is just rubble above the first floor," said a Belgian radio journalist cited by AFP news agency.

Liege Mayor Willy Demeyer said rescuers had located at least two people still alive in the debris.

"Firemen are working to try to bring them out," he said.

Christine Defraigne, a municipal councillor and Senate member, said: "I thought it was a bombing. The damage was considerable... we saw this house in flames and people inside screaming."

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