Authorities say a powerful explosion in the Czech capital Prague injured up to 40 people on Monday.
The blast, which is believed to have been caused by a leaking natural gas line, occurred around 9:56 am local time in an office building next to the Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in downtown Prague.
Much of the building’s first floor collapsed, and windows of neighboring buildings were damaged. Nearby buildings including the National Theatre, across the street from the school, were evacuated.
“I was sitting quietly in my flat, making coffee,” one witness told Reuters. “Then there was an incredible explosion. I thought the building would collapse. I looked out the window, and there was only dust everywhere.”
While there were no official reported deaths at the time of this writing, authorities fear as many as four people may still be buried in the rubble.
“According to preliminary information, we believe that up to four people suffered from severe injuries in the wake of the blast and most other injuries, totaling around 40, are light ones largely caused by cuts from shattered glass,” Zdenek Schwarz, the head of Prague Emergency Medical Services, said.
Following the blast, some of the injured were taken to Prague’s hospitals for treatment while others, many of whom were hit by flying glass, were treated by rescuers at the scene.
Prime Minister Petr Necas said in a statement he was “deeply hit by the tragedy of the gas explosion.”
Here is a raw video footage of the aftermath of the Prague explosion:
Monday’s gas explosion in Prague comes on the heels of a separate blast in France.
On Sunday, an explosion ripped off the side of a five-story residential building in the French city of Reims, killing at least three people and injuring 14 others.