A government official said an explosion occurred as a team of workers repaired the building’s boiler.
At least three people were killed in Madrid when a building partially collapsed following a massive explosion on Wednesday caused by a gas leak.
The explosion, which occurred around 3 p.m. (2 p.m. GMT), sparked a fire inside the building.
Government official Jose Manuel Franco told Spanish public television that the explosion happened as a team of workers were repairing the building’s boiler.
Franco confirmed it was a “gas explosion” and said there were three dead and one missing, indicating that the toll could rise further.
Images and footage shared on social media showed a smoke tower emerging from the six-story building and rubble strewn across Toledo Street near the city center.
Madrid’s regional emergency service said in a tweet that rescue teams, firefighters and police were working in a central area of the Spanish capital after the explosion.
Big explosion in the center of Madrid a few minutes ago. I don’t know how many victims pic.twitter.com/Q4RSyCcG1J
– Steffen Lüdke (@stluedke) January 20, 2021
Emergency teams could be seen assisting several people on the ground in a video broadcast by Spain’s public broadcaster TVE.
A local resident, Leire Reparaz, told The Associated Press she heard a loud explosion as she walked home near the Puerta de Toledo, a local landmark.
“We didn’t know where the sound was coming from. We all thought it was school. We went up the stairs to the top of our building and we could see the structure of the building and a lot of smoke, ”said the 24-year-old Madrid resident.
Lola Lopez Bravo was having lunch with her six-year-old son at their house next door when the explosion occurred, knocking down the wall of her apartment.
“We were eating, suddenly we heard a noise and the wall in front of us started falling on us,” the 44-year-old told AFP news agency.
“There was a huge hole in the wall, then the rubble started to fall, so we ran out of the house and went to a neighbor’s house.
Lorenzo Fomento, a 43-year-old Italian salesman who worked from home in a neighboring apartment, told AFP the noise was huge.
“The noise was really loud, very loud, really,” Fomento said. “I had never heard anything so loud before.”