UPDATE: Dozens injured after a suspected gas explosion in the center of Prague
Dozens of people have been injured after a suspected gas explosion rocked the center of Prague this morning, April 29, at 9:56 a.m., leaving debris littering a street and causing police to seal off a large swathe of the city.
The blast on Divadelní street, close to the National Theater, is reported to have left at least 30 people injured, according to officials. Earlier indications suggesting some people were trapped under rubble have since been discounted.
“They’re trying to get them from the building,” Kamil Konečný, a Prague 2-based police officer, said in the aftermath of the blast.
Konečný thought one person had died, but a police spokeperson later told The Prague Post there were not believed to have been any fatalities.
In the hours after the blast, police were continuing to increase the cordoned-off area near the National Theater amid concern of further explosions.
Many windows were smashed by the blast, which is believed to have been a gas explosion in a building that includes an art gallery and offices of the International Air Transport Association. There were thought to be about 15 people in the building at the time of the explosion.
“We have treated up to 20 people, and we are trying to find out if there are people buried in the rubble,” Jiřina Ernestová, an emergency services spokeswoman, told the AFP news agency.
Some of those in the area at the time of the blast were seen walking away, accompanied by police officers, before being driven away in ambulances. Many of the buildings close to the scene have been evacuated.
Large numbers of fire trucks were at the scene, and police cars and ambulances continued to arrive soon after the incident. Scores of tourists and residents waited beside the police security area watching the events as television crews filed reports from the scene.
Alec Jacuzzi, 20, an American on vacation in Prague, said he was “here right after it happened.” “There were a dozen police cars and multiple vans and a number of ambulances. Just as I was arriving, they closed off the road. There were three or four trams they wouldn’t let through, although I guess they let them through later,” he said.