Three missing after explosion, fire in Rotterdam housing block

The fire brigade at the scene. Photo: Jeffrey Groeneweg ANP

Three people are missing after a massive fire in an apartment block in Rotterdam’s Zuidwijk district and may be inside the building, the fire brigade has confirmed.

The fire was apparently started by an explosion in a lock-up attached to the complex and forensic experts are at the scene on Tuesday morning looking for evidence. So far, nothing has been ruled out, the Telegraaf reported.

One person was taken to hospital with serious injuries and dozens of people who lived in the block were evacuated after the blast which brought down walls and gutted several of the low-rise apartments.

The explosion was extremely powerful and “nothing like the explosions we’ve been having recently,” a spokesman for the regional safety board told the Telegraaf, referring to the spate of firework attacks on homes and business premises thought to be linked to disputes between gangs.

“One car which had been parked on the street was blown over and we know that 44 homes are so damaged the residents will not be able to return in the near future,” he told the paper. According to some reports, the car may have been in the lockup and the source of the explosion.

On Monday night police carried out an inventory of who lived in the building and three people were found to be missing, the paper said. Officials have used a drone to try to find them in the rubble without success.

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