Eight people dead in tragic gas explosion in Szczyrk
Eight people, including four children, died after a three-story building in the southern Polish ski resort of Szczyrk collapsed following a gas explosion, authorities said on Thursday.
Firefighters and rescuers worked through the night hours after the accident occurred on Wednesday (December 4).
The provincial governor Jarosław Wieczorek said the bodies of four adults and four children have been found in the rubble.
"A tragic night tragic day, one of the biggest construction disasters in our province," Mr Wieczorek added.
One eyewitness described the impact of the series of explosions. "At the time of the explosions, I was somewhere around 150 metres from the scene. The explosion, however, was strong. I was in the garage, the door was closed and I flew away from the wall in a distance of half a metre," said Michał Męcik.
Roughly 200 people, including fire fighters and police, took part in the rescue efforts. The search operation would be scaled down on Thursday, officials said, with heavy machinery brought in to sift through the rubble. It was not expected that more victims would be found.
"It is a very difficult operation. I don't remember such a high number of casualities in a gas explosion," Jacek Kleszczewski, a regional fire fighters' chief, said.
A local gas utility said the explosion was likely caused by a hole drilled into an installation.
Altogether 9 people had been living in the house. One person who was outside the building when the explosion happened said on Wednesday the remaining 8 residents could have been inside.
"A huge tragedy, that's all I can say. Not only for the family, but also a tragedy for the Szczyrk residents, who are deeply shocked," said the Mayor of Szczyrk Antoni Byrdy.
"It's hard for me to comment, I knew these people very well. We lived close to each other. At the moment I'm speechless" - the mayor said.
The blast happened between 6 and 7 pm. The flames could be seen from the nearby streets. The private building had three storeys.
Artur Michniewicz from Polska Spółka Gazownictwa said that gas emergency teams had been dispatched to the accident. He added that the blast had most likely been caused by a construction team that had drilled into the gas pipeline. The works had been taking place in front of the building.
"Apparently, the amount of gas was so big that it somehow migrated into the building, and then a single spark was enough to cause a tragedy," Michniewicz said.
Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP