Inquiry into the gas explosion that killed 3 people in Bytom
The District Prosecutor's Office in Katowice on Monday took over the investigation into the Saturday's gas explosion in a residential building in Bytom, that killed a woman and her two daughters. All residents have been evacuated from the building, but the first group are likely to return to their homes on Tuesday.
Beata Książek-Nowicka from Katowice prosecutor's office said that, at the moment, the inquiry assumes involuntary action, however, it qualification may be changes once new evidence comes into light.
The autopsies of the 3 victims have been scheduled for Tuesday. The scene was examined by court experts specializing in firefighting and construction supervision. The evidence material is being collected and will be carefully examined," she added.
She stipulated that the prosecutor's office was not at liberty to discuss the cause of the explosion at the time and that the witnesses were being questioned. She did not exclude the possibility of calling up further experts at the later stages of the inquiry. At this stage, the investigators will treat firefighting experts' opinions with key priority.
Prosecutor Książek-Nowicka stressed that the inquiry will also focus on the relatives of the deceased woman and her daughters. The investigators will attempt to determine the identity if those people, including the girls' father who was unable to be located in recent days.
The police began the inquest already on Saturday, under the prosecutor's supervision. This included a meticulous search at the scene involving experts, locating witnesses and taking statements from those residents of the building who were in stable condition. Further witnesses were to be questioned on Sunday and the following days.
As a result of Saturday's explosion, most likely of gas installation, in a ground floor flat on Katowicka 37 street, a 39-year-old woman and her two little daughters were killed. A 62-year-old woman who was passing by in the street suffered severe burns. Three other residents of the building also sustained various injuries. Twenty one people were evacuated from the tenement house.
The explosion caused a fire on the ground floor which was quickly extinguished. The ceiling in the flat where the blast took place was damaged, but the firefighters reinforced it already on Saturday. One of the partition walls was destroyed. In most of the flats, the woodwork around the doors and windows was also damaged.
Already on Saturday, 18 flats were closed off of usage by the order of the Voivodeship Construction Supervision Inspector.
Although the decision to allow the residents to return to their homes was made already on Monday afternoon, they decided to do that on Tuesday after doors and windows have been replaced.
Also on Monday, access to electricity and water was restored. Gas network was being tested for air-tightness. Because the construction supervisor wants to check the area encompassing practically half of Katowicka street, the test may take longer.
The city officials said on Monday that the scale of damage varies in each flat, ranging from total destruction of the flat where the blast happened, to damaged doors and windows in other flats where firefighters had to enter by force. Two ground floor flats are uninhabitable.
Some of the evacuated residents spent the last two nights in a hostel rented by the city authorities and others at their relatives' homes.
All residents of the Katowicka 37 building filed for 2.000-zloty support at the local Family Support Centre. The money is to be paid out on Monday and Tuesday.
The city offered to cover the losses regardless if damage was caused to council or private flats. The tenement building on Katowicka 37 street is managed by a residents' community. Most of the flats have private owners and the city owns 5 of them.
In the peak moment of the Saturday's intervention, 26 state fire service units were working at the scene and 3 units of voluntary firefighters, including 3 extinguishing platoons and rescuers from the specialized search and rescue team from Jastrzębie-Zdrój.
Firefighters and police officers were securing the building during the night between Saturday and Sunday; the police are expected to remain at the scene in the coming days. The head of the Silesian Fire Service, Chief Brigadier Jacek Kleszczewski said on Saturday that the working hypothesis focuses on a gas explosion in the installation to which the building is connected.
Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP
Źródło zdjęcia głównego: tvn24